"I haven't seen any of The Beatles for I don't know how long.
It doesn't even cross my mind as to whether I've seen them
or not. It's just irrelevant. It wouldn't matter to me if I saw
them often or if I never saw them again."
From his Dakota apartment in New York, John begins the new decade by drafting a most poignant four-page letter to his cousin in England.
"I'm 40 next," he writes. "I hope life begins - ie. I'd like a little less 'trouble' and more -what? I don't know." He touchingly concludes: "I'm almost scared to go to England, 'cos I know it would be the last time I saw Mimi + I'm a coward about goodbyes ..."
According to Fred Seaman: "Yoko's behaviour became increasingly weird [this month] and was accompanied by a marked deterioration in her physical appearance. Her face was haggard, her eyes glassy around pinned pupils, and she began to spend time in the bathroom making loud snorting noises, frequently followed by frightful retching. I realised she was strung out on heroin." He continues: "On the rare occasions John and Yoko met, they circled each other wearily. John would harangue Yoko about her Vampire hours and her dishevelled, Zombie-like appearance."
John and Yoko bump into record producer Jack Douglas in a health food store on New York's East Side. John asks Jack to give him a call, an offer he does not take up.
(Douglas first met the Lennons back in 1971 when he was the second engineer on the Imagine album. He also stayed briefly with John in Los Angeles during the 1973-74 "lost weekend" period.)
George meanwhile starts the Eighties by co-funding, with his Monty Python pals, the expansion of an environmental magazine called Vole.
Wednesday January 2
Meanwhile, back in England, work resumes on rehearsals for Wings' impending tour of Japan. Utilising Paul's small Mill studio until January 10, the group performs their repertoire for the best part of a week.
Friday January 11
A pre-filmed cameo appearance by George, at the recent British Grand Prix, appears during the ITV network documentary Brian Moore Meets Niki Lauda, a programme on George's motor racing friend, which is transmitted this evening between 9:01 and 9:58pm.
Saturday January 12
Paul, Linda, their children and Wings leave Heathrow Airport in London en route to Japan. During the course of their journey, the entourage stop briefly in New York and take up residence at the Stanhope Hotel, situated on the other side of Central Park to John and Yoko's Dakota residence.
Monday January 14
Late this evening, Paul tries to phone John at his apartment. His aim is to visit John and share some "dynamite weed". Yoko intercepts the call and refuses to allow Paul to speak to John. She becomes alarmed when Paul informs her that he is on his way to Tokyo and intends to stay at the Okura Hotel, John and Yoko's favourite hotel in Japan where they have stayed on each of their last four visits to the country.
Meanwhile, back in England, a controversy of another kind begins when George's Handmade Films produced film Monty Python's The Life Of Brian, featuring George in the brief cameo role of "Mr. Papadopoulos", goes on general release across the UK. Within days, there are calls by religious leaders to ban the film.
Wednesday January 16
Paul, Linda, their four children and Wings arrive in Tokyo, Japan, to start an 11 concert tour, scheduled to run from January 21 until February 2. Paul, whose previous application for a Japanese visa was turned down in 1976, is only allowed to enter the country this time because he is only planning to stay for eighteen days before moving on to China, where Wings are planning to play some unscheduled concerts. On their arrival at the Narita International Airport, customs men discover 219 grams (approximately 8 oz) of marijuana, with a street value of 600,000 yen (approximately £1,116) hidden away in Paul's baggage and inside the hood of one of Paul's children. Paul is arrested, handcuffed and questioned for an hour by narcotics control officers who announce that further questioning will take place tomorrow. Though the tour is in jeopardy, the optimistic Japanese promoters announce a decision on the eleven Wings concerts will be made tomorrow. Later this evening, acknowledging the worst, promoters dejectedly tell reporters: "Almost 100,000 tickets for the concerts have been sold, representing a possible loss of well over 100 million yen (£186,000)."
Paul, now known as prisoner number 22, spends the night in the local jail, while Linda, their four children and Laurence, Steve and Denny of Wings take up residence at the Okura Hotel, where they stand by, waiting for the outcome of Paul's fate. Sources close to those concerned later suggest that Paul's arrest might have resulted from a tip-off from Yoko Ono. With immediate effect, the music of Wings is banned from all radio and TV stations in the country.
Later this evening, in her Tokyo hotel room, Linda remarks: "It's really very silly. People certainly are different over here. They take it so very seriously. Paul is now in some kind of detention place and I have not been allowed to see him. As soon as they get someone nice like Paul, they seem to make a field day of it!" She concludes: "I'll never come back to Japan again. It's my first trip and my last!"
Thursday January 17
Officials question Paul, accompanied by the Japanese lawyer Tasuko Matsuo, for over six hours. He tells them the marijuana he smuggled into Japan yesterday was for his own personal consumption and that he intended to smoke it during the performances. He concludes by saying: "It is less toxic than alcohol." Following the questioning, which was carried out in English, an attempt is made by narcotic agents to escort Paul back to the police detention centre. The plan backfires when 200 fans, screaming "Paul! Paul!", bar their way, forcing Paul and the officials to withdraw back into the building. Riot police are called to the scene, along with two fire engines that answer a hoax telephone call.
Paul spends his second night alone in his cell at the detention centre. The narcotics officials refuse to comment on whether Paul will be referred to the Tokyo district public prosecutor's office for trial or whether he will be deported. Meanwhile, the officials of the Ministry of Justice refuse to exclude the possibility of deporting Paul because, in their opinion: "He had not legally landed when he was seized." They admit though that if prosecuted, Paul could face a prison sentence of up to seven years under Japan's stringent drug laws.
As expected, Wings' 11-date concert tour is cancelled by the disheartened promoters. The shows were to have been at Budo Khan Hall, Tokyo (Monday January 21 to Thursday January 24), Aichi-Ken, Taiiku-Kan, Nagoya (Friday January 25 and Saturday January 26), Festival Hall, Osaka (Monday January 28), Osaka Furitsu-Kan, Osaka (Tuesday January 29), Budo Kan Hall, Tokyo (Thursday January 31 to Saturday February 2).
Friday January 18
The Tokyo district court grant a request from the prosecutor's office to hold Paul for up to ten more days for questioning. They also announce that if no decision is reached to free him or charge him with possessing marijuana, he may face another ten days in jail. Japanese newspapers suggest he will be expelled without facing formal charges. Paul's Japanese agents also announce today that: "An equivalent of $1.8 million (£800,000) will be returned to the concert ticket holders." Meanwhile, officials at the detention centre where Paul is staying tell reporters: "He slept well in jail, but he is concerned about his wife Linda and four children." He concludes by saying: "His wife will also be questioned." Paul's request for a guitar in his cell is denied.
Sunday January 20
With Paul still languishing in jail, the 1973 James Bond film Live And Let Die, featuring music by Paul and Wings, receives its UK TV premiere at 7:45pm across the ITV network.
Monday January 21
The other members of Wings, Denny, Laurence and Steve, leave Japan. The latter two head for the States while Denny heads for Cannes, in the South of France, where he catches the end of the annual Midem Festival. It is there that he concludes the publishing deal, with the company Performance Music, for all but two of the tracks that will appear on his forthcoming album Japanese Tears. Informed of Denny's actions, Paul becomes annoyed by the fact that while he is languishing in a Japanese cell, Denny is sunning himself in France and concluding business deals behind his back.
An international telegram addressed to Paul and Linda arrives at the Okura Hotel in Tokyo. It reads: "Thinking of you all with love. Keep your spirits high. Nice to have you back home again soon. God bless. Love, George and Olivia."
Tuesday January 22
Linda visits Paul in his cell for the second time, staying for half an hour and bringing science fiction books for him to read. She later reveals that Paul is "laughing his way through his ordeal" in the Japanese jail. "I took some books because he is not allowed a guitar or a tape-recorder. He looks incredibly well. He was managing to smile and crack jokes. In fact, he was laughing so much, he even got me laughing and believe me, I haven't been able to do much laughing during the last week."
In England, Ringo, who is passing through Heathrow Airport on his way from Los Angeles to Nice, remarks to reporters: "It's the risk you take when you're involved with drugs. He's just been unlucky."
At Friar Park, George's secretary Cherrie Cowell drafts a reply to Jack Crawshaw of Thames Television, refusing his request for George to appear on the January 30 edition of This Is Your Life, honouring George Martin. She writes: "He is just leaving the country for the holidays and, in fact, will not be back in the country again until the middle of March." (A Beatle does appear on the show - see entry for January 30.)
Thursday January 24
Reports in the Japanese press today reveal that the half-pound of marijuana that Paul tried to smuggle into Japan could cost him £700,000 - nearly £100,000 an ounce! As Linda leaves the cells where Paul is staying, she is asked: "How long do you intend to stay in Japan?" She defiantly replies: "I'm prepared to stay in Japan for as long as it takes!"
Friday January 25
After spending 10 days in a Tokyo jail, Paul is released and promptly deported from Japan. He is ushered to Tokyo airport after the authorities had decided not to press charges. Officials at the prosecutor's office say: "Charges were not brought against Mr. McCartney because he had brought in the marijuana solely for his own use and that he has already been punished enough as a result of the incident."
As Paul leaves his detention cell, fans shout: "Sayonara, sayonara" (Goodbye, goodbye). Witnessing this, Paul remarks: "Japanese fans are so great I want to come back again if I'm allowed." The lawyers who negotiated his release admit that this is highly unlikely.
On board the waiting Jumbo Jet, Paul is reunited with his family for the 12:30pm flight back to England, which includes brief stopovers in Alaska (for refuelling) and then Schipol Airport m Amsterdam, Holland. Fighting back tears, Paul cries: "This is the longest time I have ever been away from Linda and the kids in ten years. I don't ever want a separation like it again."
Every step of the way home, he faces a scrimmage of cameramen and reporters eager to have a quick word with the "jailbird ex-Beatle". Paul announces: "I have been a fool. What I did was incredibly dumb. My god, how stupid I have been! I was really scared, thinking I might have been imprisoned for so long and now I have made up my mind never to touch the stuff again! From now on, all I'm going to smoke is straightforward fags and no more pot!"
Paul also tells reporters: "I Sang 'Yesterday' to a killer in the bath! I joined my fellow inmates for a dip in the baths and they asked for a sing-song. I gave them the old ones like 'Red Red Robin' and 'Take This Hammer'. Their favourite, though, was 'Yesterday'."
Paul is naturally asked how he spent his time in jail. "I communicated with other prisoners by knocking on the walls and shouting. I became quite matey with the chap next door. He could speak a bit of English. Funnily enough, he was inside for smuggling pot. We told each other the worst jokes in the world. They were really dreadful, but they helped to relieve the tension. Discipline in the prison was very strict, but I made friends among the prisoners and guards. We sang and laughed together as if we had been mates for ages. But I was never allowed to see sunlight or get a breath of fresh air. That was depressing!"
Paul also reveals that he lost his wedding ring. "That made me very, very low," he says. "It was confiscated and packed with my luggage to be sent on later. I now wear a ring made from a paper-clip. I just had to have a wedding ring of some sort. It's the sort of gesture that Linda and I will look back on rather romantically."
Turning to Linda, who sits beside Paul on the journey home, he sums up: "It was terribly hard for Linda - and terribly hard for me!"
Paul arrives back in England at Lydd Airport in Kent (on January 26), and is whisked off into seclusion with his family at his home in Peasmarsh in Sussex.
Denny Laine, in particular, is angry over the incident. His song 'Japanese Tears' is a critical account of this event. Paul is held personally accountable for the losses suffered by the concert promoters and ticket holders. Experts predict this sum will total several million dollars. Due to an oversight, Paul's tour insurance had lapsed just prior to the Japanese visit.
Saturday January 26
"I'll Never Smoke Pot Again!" is the headline in today's edition of The Sun, beneath a story relating to Paul.
Sunday January 27
With an army of reporters waiting at his gate, Paul has no alternative but to go and face them. Sitting on the gate, he says: "I'd prefer to forget this incident right now!"
Reporter: "For the next few days, presumably, they'll be a chance for you to get back to the English way of life and particularly to have a break with your family?"
Paul: "Yeah! If you fellows would leave me alone, that would be possible."
Meanwhile, at the Rock City Studios at Shepperton, Denny Laine hurriedly completes the recording of his album Japanese Tears.
Wednesday January 30
With George having turned down the opportunity, Paul makes his first public appearance since the Tokyo drugs bust by taping a pre-recorded filmed insert for the Thames/ITV network programme This Is Your Life which honours his good friend, The Beatles' producer George Martin. The show, transmitted between 7:00 and 7:28pm, is the tenth show in the 20th series of this long-running programme.
In America, John and Yoko take a holiday in Palm Beach, Florida with the actor Peter Boyle and his wife, writer Loraine Alterman. During their stay they visit the restaurant La Petite Marmite where a freelance reporter photographs John, now sporting a very thick beard and glasses, sitting peacefully at the table. This annoys John who later protests about the incident to Boyle back at their hotel. The picture is reproduced worldwide, including the Daily Mirror in the UK, as part of a feature on Monday March 31, which also features Ringo in his costume on the set of his new film Caveman. (See entry.) When the Lennons return to New York at the end of the month, John reveals that he is "revitalised and ready for a period of constant rebirth". A period of home demo taping sees John return to the tracks 'My Life', now titled 'Don't Be Crazy' which in turn becomes 'The Worst Is Over'. It will be released later in the year as ' (Just Like) Starting Over'. At the end of the month, John practically completes the tracks 'Beautiful Boy' and 'Watching The Wheels'.
Sunday February 10
In America, Ringo gives another radio interview, this time with the DJ Robert W. Morgan.
Monday February 11
At 8:30am, George, Olivia and Dhani, leave Heathrow Airport for St. Bartholomys, via New York. Asked about his trip, George tells reporters: "I'm going to America to work." Soon after, he flies into a rage when his Concorde flight is delayed due to a wheel fault. As a result his attitude towards the reporters changes. Asked again about his trip. he snarls: "I'm going to mind my own business!" Due to the problems with Concorde, the Harrisons miss their connecting flight to Miami, forcing them to hop on a private jet owned by Bee Gee Maurice Gibb.
Sunday February 17
Possibly as a result of Paul's recent troubles, Ringo is strip-searched by customs as he enters Mexico City to begin filming the United Artists movie Caveman.
Monday February 18
In Durango, at the Churubusco Studios in Azteca, Mexico City, Ringo, cast in the role of Atouk, begins filming the United Artists prehistoric caveman slapstick comedy film Caveman, directed by Carl Gottlieb and co-starring Dennis Quaid, Shelley Long and Jack Gilford. Set in the year "One Zillion Years B.C." and featuring only fifteen words of dialogue, the former Beatle is cast in the role of a misfit who forms his own tribe from outcasts from nearby caves. During the shooting, he meets fellow co-star Barbara Bach, an ex-James Bond girl. Insiders on the film set notice that their love scenes in the film are turning into the real thing off camera during the evenings. The five-week filming on the 91-minute film is concluded on March 25. During the shooting Ringo and the cast are joined by television news crews from Germany and Mexico and, from America, The John Davidson Show, for which they record unique outtake sequences. The film's European premieres included West Germany on June 4, 1981, Sweden on July 31 and Finland August 14.
Tuesday February 19
Due to some of the worst storms in American history, emergency evacuating workers desperately try to contact George in London to tell him that his home in Beverly Green, off the coast of Malibu, is threatening to break away from its hillside and smash into the houses below. Neighbours of George who have already lost their expensive homes include actors Cary Grant and Rod Steiger and the singers Olivia Newton-John and George's close pal Bob Dylan. After George's recent departure to New York (see entry for February 11), he refused to inform anyone of his exact whereabouts.
Wednesday February 20
In America, Paul gives an interview to Rolling Stone magazine.
Tuesday February 26
Eagerly anticipated by the nation's media, Paul attends the British Rock and Pop Awards, held at the Cafe Royal in London. He is there to receive an award for the Outstanding Music Personality of 1979, as voted by readers of the Daily Mirror, viewers of BBC TV's Nationwide programme and listeners of BBC Radio One. Paul collects the award from Pauline McLeod of the Daily Mirror and Dave Lee Travis of Radio One. (The event is covered by BBC1, highlights of which are transmitted on the station the following evening, Wednesday February 27, between 7:00 and 7:49pm.)
Wednesday February 27
In Los Angeles, Paul's 'Rockestra Theme' wins a Grammy award for the Best Rock Instrumental Performance.
John and Yoko buy a $1 million beach-side mansion in Palm Beach, Florida.
At Friar Park, George records the track 'Sat Singing', originally scheduled for the album Somewhere In England, but not officially released until 1988.
Ringo's 1978 American TV special, Ringo, is given a new lease of life when it is screened in 650 closed-circuit cinemas in colleges and universities across America.
In Liverpool, Eric's club in Mathew Street, often referred to as the new Cavern, faces closure following a recent raid by Police. The local council reveal that "their new licence may not be renewed when it has expired!"
Monday March 3
For three straight weeks (until March 23), Paul buries himself away in recording studios, at the Abbey Road Studios in London and, towards the middle of the month, at his home studios in Sussex.
In London, one of the first Sotheby's Rock & Pop auctions takes place. Among the Beatle related items on offer are postcards, photos and a signed copy of their Parlophone debut release 'Love Me Do' from 1962.
Friday March 7
George, Olivia and Dhani head back to England from Miami, briefly stopping over in New York, where they occupy two bedrooms at the Waldorf Astoria hotel.
Saturday March 8
The Harrisons resume their journey back to England, arriving today at London's Heathrow Airport.
Sunday March 16
In preparation for George's recording sessions which are scheduled to resume at FPHOTS tomorrow, Willie Weeks, Neil Larsen and Andy Newmark arrive at Friar Park.
Thursday March 20
John and Yoko celebrate their 11th wedding anniversary by buying each other lavish presents. Yoko splashes out on a Rolls Royce and John returns the compliment by buying her 500 gardenias and a heart-shaped diamond.
Monday March 24
The album The Beatles Rarities is released in America. The compilation features the first authorised release of the first version of 'Love Me Do', which features Ringo, instead of Andy White, playing drums.
Wednesday March 26 & Thursday March 27
For two days, at the Ewart Television Studios in London working with the director Keith McMillan, Paul contents himself with the making of what will become one of his most complex, elaborate and memorable promotional videos. To help promote 'Coming Up', Paul and Linda, through the wonders of modern technology, appear in the guises of ten different people. Collectively billed as the twelve-piece The Plastic Macs, Paul dresses as Buddy Holly, Frank Zappa, Andy Mackay, Ron Mael (keyboard player from the group Sparks), Ginger Baker (drummer of Sixties supergroup Cream), Hank Marvin and as himself, Beatle Paul, circa 1963, wearing a collarless jacket. The completed clip will appear at the start of the MPL programme Meet Paul McCartney (see entry for May 19). Clips from the video also appear in an alternative film for the song which features the footage intercut with various still photographs supplied by the French Beatles fan club, Les Club Des Quatre De Liverpool. Released to Gaumont Cinemas in France during June, it starts with gun shots shattering a window where a picture of McCartney II is seen. Again, Keith McMillan directs the piece.
Saturday March 29
George and Olivia join in the Friends of the Earth anti-nuclear march through London.
Monday March 31
In what was originally going to be a feature entitled "Ringo Starr: How I Shook Off The Blues And Learned To Live Again", the Daily Mirror run the piece (in abbreviated form) but add the recent picture of a heavily bearded John with thick lensed glasses taken last month at the La Petite Marmite restaurant. (See entry for February.)
Three months after Paul's problems in Tokyo, commercial TV and radio stations in Japan lift their ban on Wings' music.
Further sessions at George's Friar Park Studios produce the tracks 'Lay His Head' and 'Tears Of The World', both planned for Somewhere in England, but they do not see the light of day until 1987 and 1992 respectively.
Wednesday April 9
John, Yoko, Sean and the Seamans depart for Cold Spring Harbor on Long Island for another vacation.
Friday April 11
Wings' single 'Coming Up' (studio version)/'Coming Up' (live version) - 'Lunch Box-Odd Sox' is released in the UK. (The American release takes place on April 15.)
Sunday April 13
John and Fred Seaman drive out on Route 110 to buy Yoko some flowers. During the journey, John hears 'Coming Up' for the first time on the car radio.
Monday April 14
George, along with Olivia and Dhani, are seen nosing around the Falmouth area of Cornwall, looking for a Cornish home.
Sunday April 20
At Cold Spring Harbor, John records his day-to-day activities on his newly acquired video camera. These include playing with Sean, having lunch with Yoko on the lawn overlooking the sea and strumming his guitar. Today, to the camera, John records two versions of 'Dear Yoko', the second being re-recorded after he noticed on playback that he needed to put a light on!
Monday April 21
Yoko having requested John to "clean out his head", John begins a ten day period of silence at Long Island. It ends at noon on April 30 when John shaves off his long thick beard.
Tuesday April 22
In the Music Week, BBC/BRMB UK music chart, Paul's 'Coming Up' enters at number seven.
Vic Garbarini interviews Paul for the magazine Musician. A recording of the interview is later released on the limited edition album The McCartney Interview.
May (and June)
Towards the end of the month, John briefly visits South Africa, from where he sends many telegrams to friends and former associates. He stays at the Mount Nelson Hotel in Cape Town between May 23 and May 27, booking in under the alias of John Green, Yoko's Tarot card reader, and then travelled on to Johannesburg. During this period of travelling, John also visits Germany and Spain, the nearest he will ever come to revisiting England.
Thursday May 1
John takes possession of his new sailing boat, called Royal Isis, from Tyler Conley. He spends the rest of the month learning how to sail.
Friday May 2
In the UK, Scratch Records release the Denny Laine single 'Japanese Tears'.
Thursday May 8
In England, Ringo and Barbara decline to comment to Daily Mirror reporters about their rumoured romance.
Friday May 9
Paul appears in public again to collect the Ivor Novello Special Award For International Achievement at the Grosvenor Hotel in London.
Friday May 16
Paul's second truly solo album, McCartney II is released in the UK. He and Linda travel to the 33rd annual Cannes Film Festival in the South of France where Oscar Grillo's five-minute animated film Seaside Woman, based around Linda's 1973 song of the same title, wins the first prize, the Palm d'Or, in the short film category. Paul later reveals that during its screening at the festival, he and Linda sneaked in unannounced to watch their film, and that the applause at the conclusion was one of their fondest memories. The prestigious gathering also serves as a wonderful exercise to promote Paul's latest album, but bosses at EMI make a huge blunder with the promotions at the festival when they accidentally give away to journalists more copies than they intended. They are obliged to buy some of the "free" copies back. Besides facing a lengthy photo call from the press, the McCartneys are briefly interviewed by the American columnist Rex Reed for his ITV programme Diary Of The Cannes Film Festival, which is transmitted across the network on Friday July 18, between 9:01 and 9:58pm.
Reed: "Do you think there'll ever be the chance of another Lennon & McCartney song?"
Paul: "Well, I wouldn't say there would be actually, 'cos the last time I spoke to John , I just happened to ask him about whether he was writing songs and stuff, just out of my curiosity, and he told me he was kind of finished doing that and that he's not really into that, which when you say it to people, they say, 'Oh, it's a big disappointment' or 'He must have gone crazy', but if you think about it, most of us do our jobs to arrive at a point where we no longer have to do our jobs and we can put our feet up and we can enjoy life for a change. I think John's probably reached that point."
During their visit to Cannes, Paul and Linda stay at the Montfleury Hotel, where they meet up with Ringo, who asks Paul if he would like to produce and play on his next album. Paul instantly agrees.
Saturday May 17
The promotional video for Paul's 'Coming Up' receives its American premiere on NBC TV's Saturday Night Live, where it is introduced by Paul, Linda and Billy Crystal, the show's resident comic, who is dressed as the character Father Guido Sarducci, via satellite from outside their MPL Soho offices in Soho Square, London. The scenes, which include Sarducci singing a "Beatles Medley" and, in an attempt to get the McCartneys out of bed, starts throwing stones at their windows, were actually taped early in the month, at around 5:30am.
Monday May 19
Driving to a party in south-west London, Ringo and Barbara Bach escape serious injury when they are involved in a car accident less than half a mile away from where Ringo's friend Marc Bolan had been killed back in 1977. Their 12-year-old Mercedes car was approaching the Robin Hood roundabout on the A3 at Roehampton when it spun out of control, demolishing two lampposts and somersaulting fifty yards before coming to an abrupt halt on its roof.
Ringo drags Barbara from the wreckage and gives her a cigarette. She is later quoted as saying: "He (Ringo) believes that if we could survive that together, we can survive anything. We then decided to make sure we were never apart again. He's the nicest, kindest, funniest and most sensitive man I've ever met!"
An eyewitness reports: "Ringo was pretty cool about it. He got a hell of a shake-up."
Ringo and Barbara are taken to Queen Mary's Hospital in London and released shortly afterwards after treatment. Ringo is found to have slight leg injuries while Barbara has sustained injuries to her back. Police admit that they will not be taking action against Ringo, but reveal that he may face a council bill for repairs to the demolished lampposts.
After a night at London's Dorchester Hotel, they head back to Los Angeles. During the flight, Ringo proposes marriage and Barbara accepts.
Back in London (on May 19), Paul begins an extremely hectic round of promotional appearances, beginning this morning at the Trilion Studios, where Tim Rice interviews him for a 25-minute programme featuring the curious title of Meet Paul McCartney. (Considering the events earlier this year, not to mention Paul's career to date, he certainly needs no introduction.) The show features Paul discussing the recordings for McCartney II, but will have very limited UK screenings: a broadcast on the Thames region of ITV during the afternoon of Thursday August 7 between 3:46 and 4:14pm and in the Granada region of ITV on October 27. The video clips for 'Coming Up' and (the yet un-filmed) 'Waterfalls' (version three) top and tail the show. A scene where Paul's friend, the actor Victor Spinetti, arrives on the set dressed as a punk rocker and proceeds to handcuff and arrest Paul, before leading him off and crashing him into the staging is cut from any subsequent broadcasts.
Immediately after the interview Paul dashes across London to film, at the Thames Television Studios in Euston Road, an interview with Nicky Horne for his Nicky Horne's Music Scene section, a short 5-minute item encompassed within the Thames regional news programme Thames At Six show (transmitted later this evening between 6:01 and 6:39pm in the London and South East region of ITV only).
Besides using the interview to promote his new album, Paul also recalls his drugs bust a few months earlier: "It was very stupid! We'd been in America and the attitude to drugs over there is very different and it led me to take a real casual approach. Most people taking that kind of thing into the country would give it to the roadies, that's the common practice. That just shows that I wasn't really thinking about it. I was taking my opinion of it instead of the legal opinion of it, and I just didn't really think much about it, you know till the fellow pulled it out of the suitcase and he looked more embarrassed than me! He wanted to put it back in and forget the whole thing, you know."
Nicky Horne: "What thoughts went through your head when you realised it could be seven years!"
Paul: "The first thing you do is ask to see your British Consul. You always think 'He'll get me out!' Well, he turned up with a flat cap on, he didn't look like a Consul at all, our man in Havana or something. He said, 'Well Paul, there's a fellow in here who had a lot less than you had and he's done three months already, so you could have seven years hard labour to look forward to!' I thought 'What?' and my jaw dropped. You're worried about how long it's gonna last; you're not just worried about the immediate conditions. It's not Bridge On The River Kwai you know... it's not that bad. The immediate worry during the time is what's going to happen to Linda and the kids. Those are the main worrying things."
(Horne will interview Paul again, this time on Capital Radio, on May 23 for his programme Mummy's Weekly.)
To conclude the busy day, Paul returns to his MPL offices in Soho Square where he gives an interview to Eddie Blanche of Associated Press.
Tuesday May 20
This afternoon at BBC Broadcasting House in Portland Place, London, Paul records an interview with the radio disc jockey Andy Peebles, which forms part of a special programme devoted to his colourful career. The show is transmitted on BBC Radio One on May 26.
Across London, George and Olivia attend the Chelsea Flower Show.
Wednesday May 21
Paul's album McCartney II is released in America. Advance copies include a one-sided 7" promotional copy of 'Coming Up'. This unique disc is not included within the UK release.
To neatly coincide with Paul's album, John releases a statement revealing his plans to cut his last links with The Beatles by selling his quarter share in Apple. His statement jokes: "I have been inundated with calls from investors wishing to buy my quarter share. The phone hasn't stopped ringing." Yoko emphasises the reason behind John's decision: "We are both artists and we are really big into being a family. Those are the things that we care about. We've bought a good-sized boat and we will live comfortably on it." John concludes the statement by saying he wishes to: "Sail off into the sunset with Yoko and Sean." (The boat is their recently acquired 63-foot yacht Royal Isis, which is currently moored at Long Island, New York.)
Friday May 23
Further promotions for McCartney II continue when Paul gives a live interview on Capital Radio for the programme Mummy's Weekly, hosted by Nicky Horne.
Monday May 26
To further promote McCartney II, a pre-recorded interview with Paul is transmitted today on BBC Radio One.
Tuesday May 27
Denny Laine breaks from Wings' activities to appear solo on the Children's Thames/ITV Network programme Magpie (transmitted between 4:46 and 5:14pm), where he talks to Mick Robertson about his new book The Denny Laine Guitar Book.
Saturday May 31
Paul's album McCartney II reaches number one in the UK album charts.
The American Beatles album Rarities reaches number 21 in the US charts.
Featuring production again from Keef & Co., Paul shoots a promotional film for the song 'Waterfalls' on a specially built set in the middle of Wandsworth Common, with additional scenes being shot in a disused aircraft hangar. To assist with the taping, Paul obtains one and a half tons of polystyrene, and an eight-foot Polar bear called Olaf, hired from Chipperfield's Circus. After numerous re-edits of the sequences, a total of six different promotional films are prepared, but only version three will be screened on shows such as Meet Paul McCartney (see previous entry for May 19). 'Waterfalls' will receive its first UK screening on the ATV Saturday morning children's show Tiswas, transmitted on certain regions of the ITV network on June 14. Unfortunately, due to the current technicians' strike at the BBC, the clip never makes it onto the flagship pop programme Top Of The Pops. (See entry for June 3.)
Tuesday June 3
As a mark of protest against the axing by the BBC of five of their own musicians, Paul requests that his pre-recorded interview, in which he promotes McCartney II in tonight's edition of BBC2's The Old Grey Whistle Test, be pulled from broadcast. The gesture becomes fruitless when the Musicians Union force the postponement of tonight's show, as well as Top Of The Pops on Thursday.
Wednesday June 4
While in America, John departs from Farmingdale Airport en route to Newport Virginia where he and three others board a sailing boat called Megan Jaye that will take them to Bermuda. During the journey, the vessel hits a major storm and John is the only one on board capable of taking control.
John recalls the event during his September Playboy interview: "It was my first time at sea, three thousand miles in seven days. I always talked about sailing but my excuse was that I'd never had lessons. Yoko's attitude was 'Put up or shut up'. So she sent me on this trip and I went. She sent me specifically to open up my creativity, though she didn't tell me that. There were four of us on this forty-one-foot boat, and it was the most fascinating experience I had ever had. I loved it!
"A storm started one afternoon and lasted three days. The captain was sick and so were his two cousins, the other guys on the boat. There was no reference point. Wherever you would look we were the centre of the circle. There was no land to be seen. They were throwing up and the captain says to me, 'There's a storm coming up. Do you want to take over the wheel?' I said, 'Do you think I can?' I was supposed to be the cabin boy learning the trade, but he said, 'Well, you'll have to. There's no one else who can do it.' I said, 'Well, you had better keep an eye on me.' He said he would.
"Five minutes later he goes down below to sleep and says, 'See you later.' No one else could move. They were as sick as dogs. So I was there, driving the boat. For six hours keeping it on course. I was buried under water. I was smashed in the face by waves for six solid hours. It won't go away. You can't change your mind. It's like being on stage -once you're on, there's no getting off. A couple of the waves had me on my knees. I was just hanging on with my hands on the wheel - it's very powerful weather - and I was having the time of my life! I was screaming sea chanteys and shouting at the Gods! I felt like the Viking, you know, Jason and the Golden Fleece. The captain found our way with a sextant. He was a great guy, Hank. He looked like the man on the Zig Zag rolling papers, with a beard and a scarf on his head, doing the sextant.
"I arrived in Bermuda. Once I got there, I was so centred after the experience at sea that I was tuned in or whatever, to the cosmos. And all these songs came! (See entry for June 22.) The time there was just amazing. Fred (Seaman) and Sean and I were there on the beach taping songs with this big machine and me just playing guitar and singing. We were just in the sun and these songs were coming out."
Wednesday June 11
In Los Angeles, Ringo and Barbara announce that they intend to marry in the next few weeks, possibly in America. He also announces to the press: "She's a beautiful, sexy, funny and warm-hearted person." Following the announcement, the happy couple are seen shopping for a wedding ring.
Thursday June 12
John's nine-day journey aboard Megan Jaye comes to an end when they arrive in Bermuda. Sean and Fred Seaman join John on June 16.
Friday June 13
Paul's single 'Waterfalls'/'Check My Machine' is released in the UK. (The American release takes place on July 22.)
Saturday June 21
Relaxing in Bermuda, John listens to the Bob Marley album Burnin' and is inspired to write the track 'Borrowed Time'.
Sunday June 22
Stimulated by his writing yesterday, John commits to tape, on a Panasonic boom box, further versions of 'I Don't Want To Face It', 'Watching The Wheels' and, also during this period, he records demos for 'I'm Stepping Out', 'Dear Yoko', 'Strange Days Indeed', 'Beautiful Boy', 'Borrowed Time', an early slow version of 'Woman' and an unreleased song called 'Welcome To The Bermudas'. Creatively aroused, he will sing his new compositions to Yoko over the phone. Then, later, she will return the call and sing to John her new songs. "It inspired me completely," he recalls. "As soon as she would sing something to me or play a cassette down the phone, within ten or fifteen minutes, whether I wanted to work or not, I would suddenly get this song coming to me. I always felt that the best songs were ones that come to you. I like it to be inspirational from the spirit, and being with Sean and switching off from the business sort of allowed that channel to be freed a bit."
John, as he will put it, "had a diarrhoea of creativity". Later in the year he would recall the result of this period of sudden writing: "I just couldn't wait to get back and start recording. I had all this material after not really trying... but not really trying either. For five years I'd been so locked in the home environment and completely switched my way of thinking, so that I didn't really think of music at all. My guitar was sort of hung up behind the bed literally, I don't think I took it down in five years!"
Later this evening, John accompanies Fred Seaman to the local nightclub called Flavors where John hears 'Rock Lobster' by the B-52s for the first time. It reminds him of Yoko's work a decade earlier. (Further demos for Double Fantasy are recorded when he and Sean return home to the Dakota on July 29.)
Sunday June 23
Meanwhile, at an auction in Syracuse, New York at the State Fair, the Massachusetts dairy farmer, Steve Potter, purchases from agents working on behalf of John and Yoko, a single Holstein pedigree dairy cow called Daisy, for $265,000 (approximately £132,000). It is the highest sum paid to date for one single cow, one of 250 cows recently purchased from the Bridgewater, Virginia dairy farmer Nelson Gardener. (This record sale gains John his first non-musical entry in the Guinness Book of Records.) Within a few days of this sale, agents working on behalf of John and Yoko go on to purchase a further 71 Holstein cows, this time from Kenneth Kibler, another dairy farmer, based in nearby Luray. The money from the sale of the cow will go towards the Lennons' latest venture in New York, the acquisition of an apartment to store their large collection of fur coats. Italian fur specialists have recently installed air-conditioning to keep the coats at a suitable temperature.
Monday June 24
Back in Bermuda, John visits a botanical garden with Sean and sees a freesia hybrid flower called Double Fantasy.
Thursday June 26
Denny and his wife Jo Jo Laine reveal their plans for a concert tour. He admits: "I was getting bored, so we decided to get out on the road." He adds: "I'm still with Wings though!"
Friday June 27
Yoko flies to Bermuda to meet John but cannot stand the hot weather and returns to New York alone two days later. John is disgusted by her action.
Saturday June 28
The Wings single 'Coming Up' (live version) reaches number one on the American charts. Today at Finston Manor, an ancient concert hall just outside Tenterton in Kent, Wings assemble for almost two weeks of rehearsals. On July 9, a camera crew from Southern ITV's Day By Day news team visits the final day of the sessions and interviews Paul. The feature is transmitted in the Southern region of ITV only on July 10 between 6:00 and 6:28pm.
In the UK, in Woman's Own magazine, Linda reveals that Paul has decided not to make out a will, implying erroneously that should Paul die, his family would not benefit from his vast wealth. This, of course, is not the case since under British law the next of kin inherit automatically, regardless of the wealth of the deceased. "If you put aside a lot for kids when you die," Linda says, "they spend your entire old age looking forward to what they are going to get and wish that you were dead. So no trust funds for us. We don't want to be lumbered with all that."
Meanwhile in Japan, six months after Paul was thrown out of the country, the music of Wings is still banned on the national radio and TV station NHK
Tuesday July 1
In Bermuda, John is unable to contact Yoko during one of his frequent daily phone rituals to her at the Dakota. Expressing his disappointment, he writes 'I'm Losing You'.
Friday July 4
Fred Seaman arrives back at the Dakota from Bermunda. He learns from Yoko's close circle of friends that she is "planning to divorce John".
Ringo and Barbara fly to London from Los Angeles, where he confirms that he intends to marry the former James Bond girl. Ringo tells the waiting reporters: "We've still got to finalise details, and it could be in London." (After watching the closing stages of the annual Wimbledon Tennis Championships, they return to Tittenhurst Park in Ascot, then leave for France on Wednesday July 9.)
George's limited edition book I Me Mine is published which controversially sells for £148 per copy, with only 2,000 copies printed worldwide. (A much cheaper version appears later in paperback.) The book includes all of George's music and lyrics to all of his songs.
When he reads the book at his Dakota apartment, John is upset that he receives only the briefest of mentions for his role in the development of George's music. "I was hurt by it," he tells Playboy. "By glaring omission in the book, my influence on his life is absolutely zilch and nil. Not mentioned. In his book, which is purportedly this clarity of vision of each song he wrote and its influences, he remembers every two-bit sax player or guitarist he met in subsequent years, yet I'm not in the book."
The book's price comes under scrutiny in the Liverpool Echo newspaper, where Allan Williams describes it as "unfair to the great majority of the group's fans, who would never be able to afford it. To me, it's just a trendy book for the jet-setting brigade. I can't see any justification for bringing out a book costing this amount of money. He is a hero of the pop world and fans would have given their right arm for a copy of the book, but he has just deprived all the genuine people of it."
In George's defence, his friend Derek Taylor has this to offer: "It's a limited edition. It's not meant to upset anyone."
A 16mm print of the 1944 Humphrey Bogart film To Have And Have Not is delivered to Friar Park (and returned to London on July 8).
Monday July 7
The Granada Television region of the ITV network begin screening (every Monday morning between 10:00 and 10:14am), the original Beatles cartoon series, produced by Al Brodax in America between 1965 and 1967. It is only the second time it has been seen in the UK.
Tuesday July 8
George receives a letter from Thames Television requesting his appearance on the station's "Race-A-Thon", a marathon model racing competition, scheduled to take place, between 11pm and midnight, at the Wembley Conference Centre in London on October 2 and 3. George fails to attend or reply.
Thursday July 10
The general release of the five-minute animated film Seaside Woman begins in selected cinemas across the UK, in support to Peter Sellers' final film Being There. To coincide with its release, Linda is featured in the Mirror Woman section of today's Daily Mirror. The piece is entitled: "The Launching Of Linda - Paul's Wife Goes It Alone." She reveals that Paul and Linda's nickname for their son James is Dee-Dee and that they cut each other's hair.
Meanwhile, at Friar Park in Henley-on-Thames, a proposed new Ravi Shankar album, to be recorded at the FPHOTS with George, is ultimately scrapped.
Friday July 11 (until Monday July 21)
At the Super Bear Studios in Paris, France, located 2,700 feet up a mountain, Ringo begins recording tracks for his new album Can't Fight Lightning (which will eventually be retitled Stop And Smell The Roses, on its 1981 release). The ten-day session produces the following tracks: 'Private Property' and 'Attention' (both written by Paul), plus 'Drumming Is My Madness', 'Stop And Take The Time To Smell The Roses', 'Sure To Fall', 'Back Off Boogaloo' (new version) and 'Nice Way'. Ringo also records several tracks which do not appear on the finished album, including the original title track, 'Can't Fight Lightning', as well as 'Life Begins At 40', a song written for Ringo by John. ('Can't Fight Lightning' was written by Ringo for Barbara after they were almost struck by lightning.) Also present for the sessions are Paul, Linda and Laurence Juber. Breaking away from Ringo's album, the three briefly utilise the studio facilities to record their own track, Linda's unreleased song 'Loves Full Glory'. The Can't Fight Lightning/Stop And Smell The Roses sessions resume in North Hollywood on September 4 (see entry).
At the end of the first sessions, Paul, Linda, their children and Laurence head back to England.
Saturday July 12
A private helicopter ferries George and Olivia to Brands Hatch to watch the British Grand Prix.
Friday July 18
In Bermuda, John poses for a painting intended as a present for Yoko. She is in New York, spending the weekend with her art dealer friend Sam Green.
Sunday July 27
Following a short holiday in France at the conclusion of the Can't Fight Lightning (Stop And Smell The Roses) sessions, Ringo and Barbara fly on to Los Angeles, where they stay until early September.
Monday July 28
In America, Ringo and Barbara appear as TV guests on The John Davidson Show.
Tuesday July 29
John and Sean fly from Bermuda to New York and return home to the Dakota. John and Yoko go out for dinner and return home in a carriage. Back in their apartment, Yoko plays John her new composition, 'I'm Your Angel', on the piano. Close friends of the couple reveal that Yoko has now "abandoned plans to divorce John".
Wednesday July 30
In London, 23-year-old society beauty Michele Howard appears in court on drug charges. As an 8-year-old in 1965, she had lived briefly with The Beatles in Austria during the filming of Help!, and was the inspiration for Paul to write the song 'Michelle'. Her father, Anthony Howard, was responsible for promoting The Beatles' films in the sixties.
Thursday July 31
Yoko phones record producer Jack Douglas and says: "John's coming back. He wants to talk to you about making this record." Yoko requests that Douglas go to 34th Street, board a seaplane and fly out to the beach "near the big house in Glen Cove", which was Lennon's Long Island mansion. On arrival Yoko hands him an envelope which cryptically reads: "For Jack's eyes only." Inside the envelope is a cassette containing various demos of songs intended for John's forthcoming album and a letter which reads: "I think I want to go back into the studio. Would you be interested in producing my album? Here's a bunch of songs. I think they're the same old shit! Tell me what you think. John."
Douglas: "I listened to these songs and they were just incredible. Fred Seaman was playing pots and pans, and John was either playing piano or acoustic guitar. The whole thing was charming."
Douglas is asked by John to put together a band for the sessions. Douglas agrees to work with them now on the condition that he is the sole engineer. (He will eventually share this role with both John and Yoko.)
Paul, Linda and their children spend most of this month on holiday in the Caribbean.
Friday August 1
In London, George officially forms his company Handmade Films (Productions) Ltd.
In New York, John and Yoko finish some last minute songwriting and again meet with Jack Douglas, who books the Hit Factory for some studio recording. Later at the Factory, Douglas conducts the first rehearsals for the Double Fantasy sessions, working with hand-picked musicians, including Hugh McCracken, who played with John on his 1971 Imagine album, Tony Devileo, Earl Slick, George Small and Andy Newmark, who has just recently finished recording with George at Friar Park. The musicians, who learn the songs from John's demos which Douglas plays them back in the studio, are still none the wiser as to whom they will be recording with. They are informed that all will be revealed tomorrow evening. John, meanwhile, is at the Dakota working on some of Yoko's songs that he feels are still not quite ready.
Saturday August 2
Acting on instructions from Jack Douglas, the musicians who had rehearsed the previous evening meet up on the comer of 72nd and Central Park West en route to meet this "top secret" musician they will be recording with. By now, with the Dakota apartment building clearly visible, they begin to realise they will be backing John Lennon. Inside the Dakota, in apartment 71, John and Yoko greet the musicians and rehearse the songs to be recorded in the studio on August 4. Among the songs are 'Beautiful Boy', 'Borrowed Time' and Yoko's '(Yes) I'm Your Angel'. Supervising the rehearsal is Jack Douglas. For inspiration, John asks Fred Seaman to go out and buy for him the singles 'Babooshka' by Kate Bush and 'Magic' by Olivia Newton-John, as well as a tape by the singer Lena Lovich. At the end of a successful night, as the musicians leave the apartment, John calls Jack to one side and plays him his new song, '(Just Like) Starting Over'. Douglas loves it, telling John, "It will be the new single." (The track has come through a long line of alternative versions and titles, including 'I Watch Your Face', 'My Life', 'Don't Be Crazy' and 'The Worst Is Over'.)
Sunday August 3 & Monday August 4
John and Yoko prepare for their studio comeback by relaxing for two days at Sam Green's house on Fire Island. They return to New York during the morning of August 4.
Monday August 4 (until Wednesday September 10)
Today is a historic day as, for the first time in over four years, John re-enters a recording studio to begin producing some new music. Wearing a large floppy hat and carrying a briefcase, he is photographed by Paul Goresh entering the Hit Factory studio with Yoko. With producer Jack Douglas, John and Yoko begin recording tracks for Double Fantasy, which include (recorded by John): ' (Just Like) Starting Over', 'Cleanup Time', 'I'm Losing You', 'Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)', 'Watching The Wheels', 'Woman', 'Dear Yoko', 'Grow Old With Me', 'Borrowed Time', '(Forgive Me) My Little Flower Princess' and 'I'm Stepping Out'. Two further tracks recorded by John during these sessions, 'Everybody's Talking' (later to become 'Strange Days Indeed' and then 'Nobody Told Me') and 'I Don't Wanna Face It', were originally intended as songs for Ringo to record. Recorded by Yoko during this period are 'Kiss Kiss Kiss', 'O' Sanity', 'Every Man Has A Woman Who Loves Him', 'Hard Times Are Over', 'Give Me Something', 'I'm Moving On', '(Yes) I'm Your Angel' and 'Beautiful Boys'. (Note: leftover songs from the Double Fantasy sessions were originally planned to be released in the spring of 1981, when John would perform a concert tour. As Douglas recalls: "John pictured a big production tour including performances of Beatles numbers featured with a new arrangement." The eight remaining unreleased tracks will be released posthumously on the 1984 Polydor album Milk and Honey, (Incidentally, on Monday September 22, John also records a harmony vocal track for Yoko's song 'Every Man Has A Woman Who Loves Him', also appearing in 1984 as part of the Every Man Has A Woman album but without Yoko's lead vocal, therefore appearing, quite incorrectly, to be a solo John Lennon recording.)
Double Fantasy recording day 1
The sessions begin with John and the group rehearsing and then recording '(Just Like) Starting Over'. Throughout the Double Fantasy recordings, to achieve John's finished vocal track, Jack Douglas will generally edit together a combination of five different vocal tracks. Later on day one, work begins on Yoko's 'Kiss Kiss Kiss', 'Every Man Has A Woman Who Loves Him' and 'I'm Moving On'. The musicians at the studio today include Hugh McCracken, Earl Slick, Tony Levin, Arthur Jenkins, Ralph McDonald and Andy Newmark. (Keyboard player Jean Roussell is invited by John to join in on the sessions at a later date.) Douglas informs the musicians, in no uncertain terms, that these are "top secret" recording sessions and if news leaks out, the sessions will end immediately. (Despite this, news of John's return to studio recordings soon becomes a major news story in the press around the world.) At the end of every session, John will sit quietly, his feet up on the console, smoking from a 500-year-old opium pipe and softly ask Jack Douglas: "Is it all over?" Jack would reply: "It's over, John." Douglas recalls that should a Beatles record ever come over the radio which played quietly in the background, John would reminisce about it
Tuesday August 5 (Double Fantasy recordings day 2)
Every morning for the duration of the Double Fantasy sessions, John will meet Jack Douglas at the Dakota at 9am, and walk the short distance to the La Fortuna cafe on 71st street for breakfast. At around 11am, while Douglas would return to the Hit Factory to resume work with Yoko, John would return to his Dakota apartment for a short sleep until the early afternoon when he would rejoin Yoko and Jack at the Hit Factory. Today, they begin work on the tracks 'Cleanup Time' and 'Woman'.
Wednesday August 6 (Double Fantasy recordings day 3)
At the Hit Factory, work starts on rehearsing John's tracks 'I'm Stepping Out', 'Watching The Wheels' and 'Strange Days Indeed' (later to be titled, on its official 1984 release, 'Nobody Told Me').
Thursday August 7 (Double Fantasy recordings day 4)
The Hit Factory sessions continue with John, Tony Levin, Earl Slick, Andy Newmark and Arthur Jenkins recording 'I'm Stepping Out', 'Borrowed Time' and, briefly, the unreleased composition, 'Gone From This Place'.
Friday August 8 (Double Fantasy recordings day 5)
Additional recordings for 'Strange Days Indeed' and 'Kiss Kiss Kiss', during which, John is seen openly smoking pot during the session.
Saturday August 9 (Double Fantasy recordings day 6)
Recordings for 'Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)' and Yoko's 'Don't Be Scared'. As she accidentally fluffs her lyrics, John is heard to scream: "Remember the bridge on the River Kwai, you fuck!"
Sunday August 10 & Monday August 11
John, Yoko and Jack Douglas take a break from recordings, with the Lennons spending two days at the Dakota relaxing with Sean.
Tuesday August 12 (Double Fantasy recordings day 7)
John and Yoko issue a statement announcing their comeback and that the theme for their next album is the "exploration of sexual fantasies between men and women". Almost immediately, Jack Douglas starts receiving phone calls from record company executives, including one from Bruce Lundvall, of Columbia Records, who tells Douglas, "Whatever John wants for this record, we'll give it to him!" Meanwhile, back at the Hit Factory, shortly after hearing John's demo versions for the first time, work commences with Cheap Trick's Bun E. Carlos (drums) and Rick Nielsen (guitar) on 'I'm Losing You' and 'I'm Moving On'. Their period with the Lennons does not last long, with Yoko telling Douglas to "get rid of them", feeling that they were "getting a free ride on John's coat-tails!". (On Yoko's insistence, the rehearsal version of 'I'm Losing You' is not released on the Double Fantasy album, and will not appear officially until 1998 when a version appears on the four-CD Lennon Anthology box set.) By way of a strange coincidence, the two members of Cheap Trick had broken off from a recording session produced by George Martin, the famed Beatles producer. Also present at the Hit Factory session today is Tony Levin.
Wednesday August 13 (Double Fantasy recordings day 8)
During the sessions for 'Cleanup Time' and 'I'm Losing You', Paul calls John from holiday to suggest a collaboration but, because Yoko does not allow the call to be put through, John is not informed that his former Beatles partner has rung. This event has a touch of irony, as Jack Douglas recalls: "From what I heard from John, he was looking to get hooked up with Paul to do some writing..." For the rest of the Double Fantasy recordings, John and Yoko are rejoined by the musicians who first played with the couple on August 7.
Thursday August 14 (Double Fantasy recordings day 9)
Excited by the sessions, John arrives an hour early. Recordings take place today for 'Forgive Me My Little Flower Princess' and more versions of 'Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)'. Yoko does not attend the session; instead she spends her time with Sam Green.
Friday August 15 (Double Fantasy recordings day 10)
Sessions continue with Yoko's track 'Beautiful Boys'.
Saturday August 16 & Sunday August 17
A further break from recordings, where again John and Yoko spend time relaxing at the Dakota with Sean and eating out in local Chinese restaurants.
Monday August 18 (Double Fantasy recordings (day 11) and start of week-long videotape shoot - which ends on Friday August 22)
The production team who usually produce the Crazy Eddie record store advertisements are invited by Yoko to videotape the sessions at the Hit Factory. During the sessions, primarily to shoot footage to be included in the '(Just Like) Starting Over' promotional video clip, John and his band (on the first day, August 18), perform versions of: 'C' Mon Everybody', 'Rip It Up', 'I'm A Man', 'Be-Bop-A-Lula', '12-Bar Blues', 'Dream Lover', 'Stay', 'Mystery Train', 'I'm Losing You' (two takes), 'Blues In The Night', The Beatles' 'She's A Woman' (four takes), '(Just Like) Starting Over' (two takes) and 'I'm A Man'. (The bootleg audio tapes of this session originate not from the video but from a microphone, which was hidden in the studio.) With videotaping still continuing, John and the band continue with further recordings of '(Just Like) Starting Over' and 'I'm Losing You', using as a guideline the Cheap Trick demo recorded on Tuesday August 12, which is played through their headphones. Due to his extremely thin appearance, John is not happy with the video taken over these five days and, according to Jack Douglas, John either "Tore it up in the bath tub" or "Sunk it in the pool!" The existence or non-existence of this video still remains a mystery.
Tuesday August 19 (Double Fantasy recordings day 12)
Recordings for 'Hard Times Are Over'.
Wednesday August 20 (Double Fantasy recordings day 13)
Further recording work on 'I'm Losing You'.
Thursday August 21 (Double Fantasy recordings day 14)
Further recording sessions for '(Just Like) Starting Over'.
Friday August 22 (Double Fantasy recordings day 15)
Further recording sessions for '(Just Like) Starting Over' and the last day of the unreleased Crazy Eddie video shoot.
Saturday August 23
Another break from recording spent at their Dakota apartment. After years of seeing his dad hanging out in the apartment, Sean becomes inquisitive about where John is spending most of his days. John suggests Sean visit the studio tomorrow to watch him record.
Sunday August 24 (Double Fantasy recordings day 16)
As planned, Sean visits the Hit Factory sessions, where he watches John record additional guitar parts on '(Just Like) Starting Over' and 'Gone From This Place'.
Monday August 25 (Double Fantasy recordings day 17)
Recordings resume on the track "Watching The Wheels'.
Tuesday August 26 (Double Fantasy recordings day 18)
Most of the day is spent overdubbing additional guitar work on the track 'Watching The Wheels'.
Wednesday August 27 (Double Fantasy recordings day 19)
Additional recordings for the track 'Woman'.
Thursday August 28 (Double Fantasy recordings day 20)
Recordings for the track 'I'm Moving On'.
Friday August 29 (Double Fantasy recordings day 21)
Recording sessions for 'Dear Yoko' and 'Cleanup Time'.
Saturday August 30
Although there are no recording sessions booked for today, John and Yoko still arrive at the Hit Factory at 2:40pm in their silver limousine, accompanied by a photographer from the Star newspaper. At the Hit Factory, a reporter interviews John about his career and captures the events on his RCA home video camera. The soundtrack is marred by the fact that John is sitting in on the overdubbing of the Star Wars film The Empire Strikes Back. He talks quite candidly about all manner of subjects, including Paul's 'Coming Up' and The Beatles' film Magical Mystery Tour, and admits that the last album by Paul he listened to was the one where "he had a rose in his mouth" (Red Rose Speedway).
During conversations with Jack Douglas around this time John revealed plans for a tour in 1981. "He planned tremendous production," Jack recalls, "including his new arrangements of songs he never got right. Like 'She Loves You' and 'I Want To Hold Your Hand'."
Sunday August 31
John and Yoko spend the day in seclusion at the Dakota.
Monday September 1 (Double Fantasy recordings day 22)
A new month and a new song to be recorded, this time Yoko's track '(Yes) I'm Your Angel' as well as a studio version of John's 'Grow Old With Me'.
Tuesday September 2 (Double Fantasy recordings day 23)
Recordings resume with John's 'I Don't Wanna Face It'.
Wednesday September 3 (Double Fantasy recordings day 24)
Recording sessions for Yoko's 'Beautiful Boys'.
Thursday September 4 (Double Fantasy recordings day 25)
Further work on 'Watching The Wheels'.
Friday September 5 (Double Fantasy recordings day 26)
Additional (horn playing overdubbing) work takes place on 'I'm Losing You' and 'Cleanup Time'.
Saturday September 6 (Double Fantasy recordings day 27)
Yoko records her vocals for the track 'Every Man Has A Woman Who Loves Him'.
Sunday September 7 (Double Fantasy recordings day 28)
Further work on '(Just Like) Starting Over' and 'Give Me Something'.
Monday September 8 (Double Fantasy recordings day 29)
Additional overdubbing on the track 'Woman'.
Tuesday September 9 (Double Fantasy recordings day 30)
The first batch of recordings is concluded today with the songs 'Dear Yoko' and 'Every Man Has A Woman Who Loves Him', although additional recordings, upon the insistence of Jack Douglas, take place on September 22, 24, 26 and 29 (see entries) with the very final work on the album being concluded by Douglas on October 20.
Wednesday September 10 (Double Fantasy recordings day 31)
Vocal overdubs on Yoko's tracks are recorded with a black teenage choir.
Friday August 8
George goes on holiday with Olivia and Dhani. They return to England on Monday August 18.
Monday August 11
In North Hollywood, at the Devonshire Sound studios, Ringo and his band resume recordings for the album Can't Fight Lightning. Among the musicians is Stephen Stills. (Periodical recording will continue until February 12,1981, with the next sessions booked at the Cherokee Studios in Los Angeles on September 4.)
Monday August 18
At his Friar Park studios, after another lengthy break, George resumes recording his album Somewhere In England, almost ten months after the sessions had begun on October 30, 1979. This period of recording will continue until Tuesday September 23.
In Australia, 25,000 copies of the boxed set of 13 Beatles albums are sold, thereby qualifying for a "gold box". Reports this month reveal that the BBC and EMI Records in London are currently negotiating for an official worldwide release of The Beatles' BBC studio recordings from the Sixties.
In readiness for Sean's fifth birthday, John and Yoko purchase for him a £62,500 aeroplane, complete with a pilot and stewardess.
Paul is spotted in the audience of Stevie Wonder's concerts at the Wembley Arena. This year, Paul fails to hold his annual Buddy Holly Week celebrations; instead he hosts a Buddy Holly special on London's Capital Radio.
Ringo's central London retail outlet for his Ringo Or Robin exclusive furniture and art moves premises.
"In September, when I was just starting my record company, everybody was talking about John and Yoko. I thought, wouldn't it be great to sign them? I sent them a telegram and proceeded to forget about it. An impossible dream." - David Geffen in Rolling Stone magazine.
Monday September 1
At Friar Park, George reads a copy of the book The Beatles A-Z by Goldie Friede, Robin Titone and Sue Weiner.
Thursday September 4
At the Cherokee Studios in Los Angeles, recording resumes on Can't Fight Lightning.
Sunday September 7 (until Sunday September 14)
While John is nearing completion of his comeback album in New York, Paul is busily preparing for the annual Buddy Holly Week celebration.
Wednesday September 10 (until Sunday September 28)
At the conclusion of the recordings for Double Fantasy, John agrees to a series of interviews with David Sheff for Playboy magazine. John: "I'm going to be forty. Sean's going to be five. Isn't it great? We survived. I am going to be forty and life begins at forty so they promise. Oh, I believe it too. It's like wow. What's going to happen next?"
The first part of these interviews is printed in the December 1980 issue. (Excerpts from these lengthy interviews are later released in 1983, on the album Heart Play - Unfinished Dialogue, with additional clips being broadcast in America on The Lost Lennon Tapes radio series.) The first day of interviews in the Dakota is concluded at 1:30am in the early hours of Thursday September 11. During the interview sessions, John tells Sheff: "This will be the reference book!"
Thursday September 11
Day two of John's Playboy interview takes place at his Dakota apartment.
Playboy: "Will you follow the release of the new record with a tour?"
John: "Well, we probably will, you know. I wouldn't have believed it a month ago. But then I thought, what the hell, why not?"
Meanwhile, Yoko has a meeting with David Geffen of Geffen Records.
Back in London, Capitol Radio, broadcasts a Beatles radio special featuring many of their greatest recordings in a show called Making Waves.
Friday September 12
On day three of John's Playboy interview the venue switches to the La Fortuna coffee-shop on Columbus Avenue in New York, a block and a half from the Dakota building. The conversation resumes back at John's Dakota apartment.
Playboy: "John, do you listen to your own records?"
John: "Least of all my own. For pleasure I would never listen to them. When I hear them, I just think of the session - the forty-eight hours Paul and I sat up putting the White Album (The Beatles) in order until we were going crazy; eight hours of mixing 'Revolution 9' - whatever. Jesus, we were sitting for hours doing the bloody guitars. I remember every detail of the work."
Saturday September 13
The Playboy interview resumes at the Hit Factory.
John: "I'm always proud and pleased when people do my songs. It gives me pleasure that they even attempt to do them... I go to restaurants and the groups always play 'Yesterday'. Yoko and I signed a guy's violin in Spain after he played us 'Yesterday'. He couldn't understand that I didn't write the song. But I guess he couldn't have gone from table to table playing 'I Am The Walrus'."
Monday September 15
Paul's limited edition 12-inch single 'Temporary Secretary'/'Secret Friend' is released in the UK. Shortly after its release, Paul turns down a request from the Alfred Marks Employment Bureau to use the song for advertising purposes.
John continues his interview with Playboy magazine.
Playboy: "Why is it so unthinkable that the fab four can get back together to make some music?"
John: "Talking about The Beatles getting back together again is an illusion. That was ten years ago. The Beatles only exist on film and on record and in people's minds. You cannot get back together what no longer exists. We are not those four people anymore. Anyway, why should I go back ten years to provide an illusion I know doesn't exist?"
Playboy: "Forget the illusion. What about just to make some music?"
John: "Why should The Beatles give more? Didn't they give everything on God's earth for ten years? Didn't they give themselves? Didn't they give all?"
Following a lengthy interview session at the Dakota, he joins Sheff on a stroll up 72nd Street, down Columbus Street, around Central Park and back to tile Dakota.
Tuesday September 16
Further interviews with John for Playboy magazine are carried out at the Hit Factory and his Dakota apartment.
John: "When I was a Beatle, I thought we were the best fucking group in the goddam world, and believing that is what made us what we were, whether you call it the best rock'n'roll group or whatever. As far as we were concerned, we were the best, but we thought that before anybody else had even heard of us. In that respect I think The Beatles are the best thing that ever happened in pop music, but you play me those tracks and I want to remake every damn one of them. I heard 'Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds' last night. It's abysmal, you know? The track is just terrible. I mean, it is a great track, a great song, but it isn't a great track because it wasn't made right. You know what I mean? I feel I could remake every fucking one of them better!"
Unfortunately, throughout the entire interview, John has neglected to inform Sheff that another interview he did with Newsweek magazine is about to reach the stands.
Wednesday September 17
Advanced text of John's explosive Newsweek article reaches the news wires. This naturally annoys Sheff and G. Barry Golson, the executive editor of Playboy magazine, who thought that their interview with John was an exclusive. They confront him this morning. "John, you rat," Barry screams at the Dakota. "You blew our exclusive!" "Well," John humbly replies, realising his mistake, "what can I do to make it up with you boys?" Quick as a flash, Barry decides to ask John to go over his music song by song, to recall who wrote what and under what circumstances and what memories the songs might inspire. John enthusiastically agrees. "I'm proud of my work," he remarks. "I'll give you the definitive version, the whole damned thing - at least my version ... I have a terrific memory. You can do it from the womb to the grave. Boom!"
John: "We (Paul and I) wrote a lot of stuff together, one on one, eyeball to eyeball. Like in 'I Want To Hold Your Hand', I remember when we got the chord that made the song. We were in Jane Asher's house, downstairs in the cellar playing on the piano at the same time. And we had 'Oh you ... got that something' and Paul hits this chord and I turn to him and say, 'That's it!' I said, 'Do that again.' In those days we really used to absolutely write like that - both playing into each other's noses. We wrote in the back of vans together. We wrote 'She Loves You' in a van on the way to Newcastle."
Playboy: "But what about a complex song like 'Eleanor Rigby?"
John: "Yeah, 'Rigby'. Ah, the first verse was his but the rest are basically mine. He knew he had a song. But by that time he didn't want to ask for my help, and we were sitting around with Mal Evans and Neil Aspinall, so he said to us, 'Hey, you guys, finish up the lyrics.' Now I was there with Mal, a telephone installer, and Neil, who was a student accountant, and I was insulted and hurt that Paul had just thrown it into the air. He actually meant that he wanted me to do it, and of course there isn't a line of theirs in the song because I finally went off into a room with Paul and we finished the song. I do know that George Harrison was there when we came up with 'Ah, look at all the lonely people.' He and George were settling on that as I left the studio to go to the toilet, and I heard the lyric and turned around and said, 'That's it!' The violin backing was Paul's idea. Jane Asher had turned him on to Vivaldi, and it was very good, the violins, straight out of Vivaldi. I can't take any credit for that, at all."
Later, with Sheff and Golson still in tow, more interviewing takes place at the Hit Factory.
Thursday September 18
Day eight of John's interview with Playboy magazine takes place at the Hit Factory.
John: "I haven't seen any of The Beatles for I don't know how long. It doesn't even cross my mind as to whether I've seen them or not. It's just irrelevant. It wouldn't matter to me if I saw them often or if I never saw them again. Because the whole Beatles message was, as Baba Rama Ding-Dong says, 'Be Here Now'. I don't know what they do now. Somebody asked me what I thought of Paul's last album and I made some remark like I thought he was depressed and sad. But then I realised that I hadn't listened to the whole damn thing. I heard one track - the hit, 'Coming Up', which I thought was a good piece of work. Then I heard something else that sounded like he was depressed. I don't follow Wings, you know. I don't give a shit what Wings are doing, or what George's new album is doing or what Ringo is doing. I'm not interested, no more than I am in what Elton John or Bob Dylan is doing. It's not callousness. It's just than I'm too busy living my own life to follow what other people are doing."
At the conclusion of the interview, John requests a few days breather. Work resumes on Monday September 22.
Friday September 19
At 9am, because her horoscope reading today is favourable, Yoko meets David Geffen of Geffen Records, who agrees to release Double Fantasy without hearing any of the tracks John and Yoko have just recorded. Before this five-year agreement, John had toyed briefly with the idea of selling the completed Double Fantasy master tapes in an auction so that they would be released by the highest bidder, thus freeing him from signing any record contract.
Monday September 22
This morning, after a weekend deliberation, John and Yoko sign a recording contract with Geffen Records. Later, John continues the Playboy interview with David Sheff, firstly at the Hit Factory and later at the Dakota apartment.
Playboy: "What about the Bangladesh concert with George and Dylan and others?"
John: "Bangladesh was caca ... everybody else is getting paid except for the musicians. It's an absolute rip-off, but it makes the artist look good."
Recordings at the Hit Factory today include John re-recording his vocals on 'Woman' and recording his backing vocals on Yoko's 'Every Man Has A Woman Who Loves Him'.
Tuesday September 23
Ringo continues recording Can't Fight Lightning at the Cherokee Studios in Los Angeles, where he is joined by Ronnie Wood of The Rolling Stones to record an early version of the track 'Dead Giveaway'.
At Friar Park, George completes his album Somewhere In England. Unfortunately, as things turn out, the sessions will have to be resumed in November.
Wednesday September 24
Mixing of Double Fantasy moves from the Hit Factory to Record Plant East in New York. John is naturally in attendance. During the session, John gives an interview to Lisa Robinson of the 97-FM Buffalo radio station.
Thursday September 25
At the Dakota, Yoko meets with Sean's bodyguard, Doug MacDougall, to discuss the security surrounding the Lennons. This is in direct response to the number of fans who are beginning to hang around the front of the Dakota building in the hope of catching a glimpse of John leaving to go to the recording studio.
In Los Angeles, at the Cherokee recording studios, Ringo, still with Ronnie Wood, records the track 'Brandy'. A further session is planned for Saturday September 27.
Friday September 26
At the Record Plant East studios in New York, Jack Douglas prepares the mixes for the single '(Just Like) Starting Over' and 'Kiss Kiss Kiss'. Further Double Fantasy mixes take place on September 29. Back in England, BBC Radio One transmits a profile on John in Paul Gambaccini's Appreciation series.
George leaves Heathrow Airport en route to Montreal in Canada. He will then fly on to Los Angeles on Sunday September 28 where he will meet up with Derek Taylor.
Sunday September 28
The tenth and final day of Playboy interviews takes place this morning during breakfast at La Fortuna's coffee shop.
Playboy: "Do you still take LSD?"
John: "Not in years. A little mushroom or peyote is not beyond my scope, you know, maybe twice a year or something."
In total, John and Sheff have recorded over thirty hours of fascinating interview material. Following the session with Playboy, John has another haircut and, along with Yoko, boards a plane for Los Angeles where they have arranged to meet George and Derek Taylor at Monty Python's concert at the Hollywood Bowl. George gives John a copy, on audio cassette, of his latest album. Following the show, George remains in LA while John and Yoko return to New York, arriving back in the early hours of September 29.
Monday September 29
As planned, Newsweek magazine hits the American news stands and, as expected, carries an exclusive two-page interview with John and Yoko by Barbara Graustark. The article, John's first major interview since the NBC TV's Tomorrow Show with Tom Snyder on April 28, 1975, includes questions on a wide range of topics including Yoko's role as John's business manager, whether John stopped listening to music and a typical day in the life of John and Yoko?
Barbara: "Why did you go underground in 1975? Were you tired of making music - or of the business itself?"
John: "It was a bit of both. I'd been under contract since I was 22 and I was always 'supposed to'. I was supposed to write a hundred songs by Friday, supposed to have a single out by Saturday, supposed to do this or that. I became an artist because I cherished freedom -1 couldn't fit into a classroom or office. Freedom was the plus for all the minuses of being an oddball! But suddenly I was obliged to a record company, obliged to the media, obliged to the public. I wasn't free at all."
Barbara: "Paul McCartney's theory is that you became a recluse because you'd done everything - but be yourself."
John: "What the hell does that mean? Paul didn't know what I was doing - he was as curious as everybody else was. It's ten years since I really communicated with him. I know as much about him as he does about me, which is zilch. About two years ago (1976), he turned up at the door. I said, 'Look, do you mind ringin' first? I've just had a hard day with the baby, I'm worn out and you're walkin' in with a damn guitar!' "
Barbara: '"Why did you decide to record again?"
John: "Because this housewife would like to have a career for a bit! On October 9, I'll be 40 and Sean will be 5, and I can afford to say 'Daddy does something else as well.' He's not accustomed to it - in five years I hardly picked up a guitar. Last Christmas our neighbours showed him Yellow Submarine and he came running in saying 'Daddy, you were singing ... were you a Beatle?' I said, 'Well yes, right!' "
Barbara: "People have blamed Yoko for wrenching you away from the band and destroying The Beatles. How did it really end?"
John: "I was always waiting for a reason to get out of The Beatles from the day I filmed How I Won The War. I just didn't have the guts to do it. The seed was planted when The Beatles stopped touring and I couldn't deal with not being on stage. But I was too frightened to step out of the palace. That's what killed Presley. The king is always killed by his courtiers. He is overfed, over-indulged, overdrunk to keep him tied to his throne. Most people in the position never wake up."
Barbara: "Do you ever yearn for the good old days?"
John: "Nah! Whatever made The Beatles 'The Beatles' also made the Sixties the Sixties, and anybody who thinks that if John and Paul got together with George and Ringo 'The Beatles' would exist, is out of their skulls. The Beatles gave everything they had to give - and more. The four guys who used to be that group can never ever be that group again even if they wanted to be. What if Paul and I got together? It would be boring. Whether George or Ringo joined in is irrelevant because Paul and I created the music, OK? There are many Beatle tracks that I would redo - they were never the way I wanted them to be. But going back to The Beatles would be like going back to school... I was never one for reunions. It's all over!"
In Honolulu, a 25-year-old long-term Beatles fan reads the article and convinces himself that John is "a phoney". His name is Mark David Chapman.
Mixing work on Double Fantasy continues on the tenth floor of the Record Plant in New York. Sound effects, taped in the New York streets by Fred Seaman and engineer Jon Smith, are added to the tracks 'Watching The Wheels' and '(Yes) I'm Your Angel'. For the song 'I'm Losing You', John instructs Jack Douglas to mix into the end of the song a secret message in synthesized Morse code, which reads "I love you Yoko." This afternoon, sporting his new shorter haircut, John is pictured climbing out of his limousine and entering the studios.
Tuesday September 30
On the suggestion of Yoko, the Double Fantasy mixing sessions are moved back to the Hit Factory.
Following another haircut, John is pictured by photographer Lilo Raymond walking around New York with Yoko and at the Hit Factory studios.
Handmade Films complete the shooting of the film Time Bandits, which stars John Cleese, Michael Palin, Sir Ralph Richardson and Sean Connery. In between film duties, George is to be found in the audience of Ravi Shankar's concert at London's Royal Albert Hall.
With fifteen years having elapsed since the completion of The Beatles' second film Help!, the full and complete rights to this and The Beatles' first big-screen adventurer A Hard Day's Night, automatically revert back to the films' producer Walter Shenson from United Artists. Recognising this fact, Shenson begins restoring the originale Hard Day's Night film soundtrack, utilising the latest Dolby sound systems, and contemplates a reissue of the film to American cinemas.
Wednesday October 1
George is now joined in Los Angeles by Olivia and Dhani. They all return to London on Friday October 24.
Thursday October 2 (until Saturday October 25)
Paul and Wings, in what turns out to be their final session together as a five-piece, return to Finston Manor in Tenterton, Kent, to record a set of demos in preparation for the proposed Hot Hits, Cold Cutz, album as well as initial work on the Rupert The Bear film soundtrack. After the first week, rehearsals shift towards tracks which are scheduled to appear on Paul's next studio album, ultimately to appear on the Tug Of War (1982) and Pipes Of Peace (1983) albums. Amongst the tracks 'jammed' during this three-week period are: 'Rainclouds', 'Average Person', 'Keep Under Cover', 'Ebony And Ivory', 'Twenty Flight Rock', 'Ballroom Dancing', 'Cage', 'Old Man Lovin' ', 'Sure To Fall', 'Movie Magg', 'Blue Moon Of Kentucky', 'Summertime', 'Good Rockin' Tonight - Shake, Rattle And Roll' (medley), 'Cut Across Shorty', 'Stealin' Back To My Same Old Used To Be', 'Singin' The Blues', 'Johnny B. Goode', 'Dress Me Up As A Robber', 'The Pound Is Sinking', 'Sweetest Little Person', 'Wanderlust' and 'Take It Away'. In addition, Wings jam five further tracks, which remain unreleased. These are 'Take Her Back, Jack', 'The Unbelievable Experience', 'Here's The Chord, Roy', 'Seems Like Old Times' and a further version of 'Boil Crisis' first recorded by Wings back in 1977. Due to the largely uninspiring nature of these rehearsals, a planned Wings recording session in December at George Martin's recently opened studio in Montserrat fails to materialise.
During the month, at his Dakota apartment, John records several more demos of the song 'Real Love' which he had originally begun composing in the late Seventies. (Take 6 of the song is released in 1988 on the compilation soundtrack album Imagine: John Lennon. Yoko copyrights the song in 1985 under the alternate title of 'Girls And Boys'.) During this month, John also records several more unreleased songs, including many different takes of 'Serve Yourself', a full-blown foul-mouthed parody of Bob Dylan's 'Gotta Serve Somebody', which had been recorded several times throughout 1980, initially in early spring.
Thursday October 9
Yoko hires a skywriter to write: "Happy Birthday John & Sean - Love Yoko" nine times in the sky, an event that makes a major news story on US TV. While John sleeps through the proceedings back at the Dakota, fans gather outside the building in the hope of catching a glimpse of the former Beatle. Later in the day, John and Yoko pose for an official "40th Birthday" snapshot and the Lennons' assistant, Fred Seaman, announces to the press that "next Spring, John and Yoko will be touring Japan, USA and Europe". After an absence of ten years, John will finally be returning to England.
Friday October 10
Paul and Linda donate a £500 cheque to the appeal fund for Johnny Owen, a Liverpool boxer injured in a bout.
Monday October 13
With John about to re-enter the world of record releases, Parlophone/EMI in England waste no time in compiling a new Beatles album, entitled The Beatles Ballads - 20 Original Tracks. The line-up of previously released tracks includes: 'Yesterday', 'Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)', 'Do You Want To Know A Secret', 'For No One', 'Michelle', 'Nowhere Man', 'You've Got To Hide Your Love Away', 'Across The Universe', 'All My Loving', 'Hey Jude', 'Something', 'The Fool On The Hill', 'Till There Was You', 'The Long And Winding Road', 'Here Comes The Sun', 'Blackbird', 'And I Love Her', 'She's Leaving Home', 'Here, There And Everywhere' and 'Let It Be'.
John enjoys a belated official birthday party with Yoko and Sean at their regular birthday venue, the Tavern On The Green in New York's Central Park.
Wednesday October 15
In London, George forms Handmade Films (Distribution) Ltd, to serve his Handmade Production Company.
Thursday October 16 & Friday October 17
Still in the capital, Abbey Road studios hold their "Sale of the Century" auction. Among the historical recording equipment put under the hammer over the two days is the original Struder J37 4-track recording machine as used by The Beatles when they made Sgt. Pepper back in 1967, which sells for £500, and a mellotron tape organ, as used on the recordings for Magical Mystery Tour and complete with many of The Beatles original tapes still intact, which sells to musician Mike Oldfield for £1,000. Also sold at the auction is a brass ashtray as used by Ringo during various Beatles recording sessions. This fetches £120.
Saturday October 18
In a Honolulu public library, Mark Chapman borrows the Anthony Fawcett book One Day At A Time. Chapman, who has been psychologically deranged for more than ten years, somehow further convinces himself that John has become a hypocrite and has now sold out on all his ideals and principles. Reading this book. Chapman suffers serious mental turmoil and decides that the only solution to this problem is to kill John Lennon.
Monday October 20
The final mixes for the album Double Fantasy are concluded by Douglas at the Hit Factory. Shortly after their completion and excited by what they've just done, John aborts a planned trip to Bermuda and asks Douglas to rejoin him and Yoko in the studio. He tells him he is keen to continue with more recordings and eager to record some tracks for Ringo's next album. Hit Factory sessions are quickly arranged for November 17, the day that Double Fantasy will be released simultaneously around the world.
Thursday October 23
Mark Chapman departs from his post as a Honolulu maintenance man at the Waikiki Condominium, signing off from his employees using the pseudonym "John Lennon".
Friday October 24
With great anticipation, John's comeback single '(Just Like) Starting Over', backed with Yoko's 'Kiss Kiss Kiss' is released in the UK. (The American release takes place three days later, on October 27.)
Monday October 27 (until Monday November 3)
Paul joins George Martin at AIR Studios in London to continue more solo projects, this time the soundtrack for the proposed Rupert The Bear film, which includes: 'Rupert Song', 'Tippi Tippi Toes (Parents Theme) ', 'Flying Horses', 'Cohen, The Wind Is Blowing', 'The Castle Of The King Of The Birds', 'Sunshine, Sometime', 'Sea-Comish Water' (medley), 'Storm', 'Nutwood Scene', 'Walking In The Meadow", 'Sea Medley' and 'Rupert Song' (version two). On October 31 and November 3, joined by The King's Singers and the St. Paul's Boys Choir, Paul records both vocal and humming versions of the song 'We All Stand Together', later to appear in the 1984 animated film short Rupert And The Frog Song and released as a single in the UK only on November 12, 1984. The most significant of these recordings are 'Sea', which was first demoed by Paul during Sunday July 14, 1974, the so-called 'Piano Tape' (see entry), 'Sunshine, Sometime', which first appeared during the 1971 Ram album sessions and 'The Castle Of The King Of The Birds', which was a track first "jammed" by Paul in January 1969 during The Beatles' Get Back/Let It Be sessions.
In Honolulu, Mark Chapman purchases a .38 calibre "charter arms undercover" short barrelled revolver. (In English money, the gun costs £75.)
Wednesday October 29
Mark Chapman flies from Honolulu to New York. In his possession on the flight is a handgun, but no ammunition.
Thursday October 30
Chapman arrives at the Dakota in an attempt to meet John. His failure leads him to return for the next five days. An attempt to buy some bullets for his handgun also results in failure.
November (until June 16 1981)
Back in England, at his Friar Park studio, George periodically resumes sessions for Somewhere In England, recording four new tracks to replace those rejected by Warner Brothers. One of them, 'Blood From A Clone', is an attack on the company for rejecting his first version of the album. Though George had produced the earlier album recordings, Ray Cooper now becomes the co-producer with George during this period of recordings.
During November at the Dakota, in preparation for further Hit Factory recording sessions, John records a number of demos of unreleased songs, including 'Dear John', one of the last songs he will ever compose. During the recording, he goes into the lyrics of 'September Song', all the more poignant given the events that are soon to follow. Outside the Dakota apartment, John bumps into Mitch Weissman, who plays the role of Paul in the Beatlemania stage play. Mitch tells John: "I am hoping to leave the show and do other things." John replies: "I can feel for you, but once you're a Beatle, it's tough to get out"
John's return to the world of record releases brings with it renewed appreciation of anything Beatles related. With this in mind, Radio Luxembourg (every Tuesday evening, between 8:00 and 9:00pm) begin broadcasting this month The Beatles Hour, a non-stop feast of pure Beatles music.
A pre-recorded interview with Paul is broadcast on the Irish radio station CBC.
November (first week)
EMI's budget label MFP (Music For Pleasure) releases, simultaneously worldwide, their first cut-price Beatles albums. The titles include The Beatles Rock 'N' Roll Music Volumes 1 and 2 (the 1976 double album split into two single discs but featuring the new, previously unreleased, George Martin remixes), Ringo's 1973 album Ringo, John's Mind Games and George's Dark Horse. In the UK, the records retail for just £1.99.
Sunday November 2
Back in the States at 8pm this evening, Jack Mitchell photographs John and Yoko for the November 9 edition of the Arts and Leisure section of the New York Times.
Monday November 3
In England, EMI's mail-order division World Records releases the eight album box set entitled The Beatles Box, containing 126 original Beatles' recordings, including several rare mixes.
Tuesday November 4 & Wednesday November 5
In the States, Paul oversees the final edits of the Wings concert film Rockshow, being prepared for its New York premiere on November 26. He returns home on Thursday November 6.
On November 4, a copy of the Gene Kelly musical film Singin' In The Rain is delivered to Friar Park. (The print is returned to London on Monday November 10.)
Thursday November 6
During the sessions still taking place at Cherokee Studios in Los Angeles, Ringo, still accompanied by Ronnie Wood, records a demo of the track 'I Don't Believe You'. At its conclusion, Ringo and Barbara get ready to return home and a further Can't Fight Lightning session is booked for Wednesday January 14, 1981.
Sunday November 9
Chapman flies back to New York. On his flight he reads an Esquire magazine article by Laurence Shames which criticises John's radical beliefs and exclusive lifestyle. Once back in New York, Chapman returns to the Dakota and is repeatedly told by 27-year-old doorman Jay Hastings that John and Yoko are "out of town for the week". Hastings, who has been working at the Dakota for the past two years, is a life-long Beatles fan and has regularly greeted John and Yoko when they returned from their late-night Hit Factory recording sessions. As the Lennons return home, John would usually greet him by saying, "Bonsoir, Jay".
Monday November 10 (periodically until Wednesday November 26)
Back at his home in Rye, Sussex, Paul, continues work with Linda and Denny on demo recordings of tracks intended for the next Wings studio album.
Ringo also returns from America and, back at his Tittenhurst Park mansion, contacts George to ask if he would like to appear on his next album. George agrees. A date is set for Wednesday November 19.
Tuesday November 11
In his rented New York apartment, Chapman phones his wife in Hawaii and informs her: "I am planning to murder John Lennon!" She pleads with him to return home, advice he fails to follow.
Wednesday November 12
Taking a break from the sessions at FPHOTS, George purchases, from Asprey & Company, in Bond Street, London, a musical box costing £295.00, which plays George's Beatles tune 'Here Comes The Sun'. (Over the years, this fact slowly became distorted, and it is eventually believed that George bought a toilet which, when the seat is lifted, plays John's tune 'Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds'.)
Friday November 14
At his Dakota apartment, John records, on his final home taping session, demos of 'Pop Is The Name Of The Game', 'You Saved My Soul (With Your True Love)', and a final version of 'Serve Yourself'.
Saturday November 15
According to Ringo during his interview on the ABC TV Barbara Walters Special (transmitted in America on March 31, 1981), he and Barbara met John and Yoko tonight at the Plaza Hotel in New York, where The Beatles stayed on their first visit to America in February 1964.
Monday November 17
"Double Fantasy - we feel like this is just the start and this is our first album. I know we've worked together before and we've even made albums before, but we feel like this is the first album. I feel like nothing has happened before today." - John (in an RKO Radio interview recorded on December 8).
John and Yoko's album Double Fantasy is released simultaneously in America and in the UK. To celebrate this fact, the Lennons happily pose for the photographer Paul Goresh on their way to the Hit Factory. Back home, the reviews of the album are not very good. Melody Maker writes: "The whole thing positively reeks of an indulgent sterility... It's a godawful yawn!"
Shortly after the album's release, John sends Aunt Mimi a silver box from Cartier's with a pearl necklace and matching brooch. Inside the box, there is an engraved message which reads: "Double Fantasy - Christmas 1980 - NYC - John and Yoko". After receiving the present, Mimi rings John at the Dakota and tells him: "You're daft!" But John just laughs, saying: "Go on Mimi, spoil yourself ... just for a change."
Tuesday November 18
George has a 4pm meeting at the London offices of Frere Cholmeley, the solicitors who represent Apple Corps.
Wednesday November 19 (until Tuesday November 25)
In England, as scheduled, Ringo joins George for the Can't Fight Lightning recording sessions at Friar Park in Henley-on-Thames, where they record the basic guitar and drum tracks on a song that will later form the basis of George's track 'All Those Years Ago'.
Friday November 21
John, wearing a black beret, and Yoko are photographed walking through Central Park. They return there for more pictures on November 26.
Wednesday November 26
For the second time in a week, John and Yoko return to Central Park for more pictures. This time they are filmed walking around the park by ABC News for their programme 20/20. Yoko also arranges for this footage to be re-edited and used in additional scenes for the promotional film to accompany the single '(Just Like) Starting Over'. Unfortunately, this does not happen and, in early 1981, the film will reappear accompanying the song 'Woman'. (Further, unscreened, excerpts appear later in the 1988 film Imagine: John Lennon.) Later the couple attend the Sperone Gallery in the Soho area of New York, where a large white bedroom has been specially created for the couple to be filmed undressing, kissing and simulating sex on a bed. (Clips from this are first seen in the video for 'Walking On Thin Ice', premiered in January 1981 at a New York nightclub.)
"Rockshow ... Now The Movie ... Rockshow ... See The Beatles' Classics ... McCartney's Greatest Hits ... All New Sight And Sound Experience. Paul McCartney. Wings - Rockshow." - Rockshow Film Trailer, November 1980.
Later this evening, the Wings live concert film Rockshow, consisting of film shot at the Wings Seattle concert on June 10, 1976, premieres at the Ziegfield Theater in New York. Neither Paul nor Linda is present. (The European premiere takes place in the UK on April 8, 1981- see entry.)
While Paul's latest venture is premiering in town, Ringo and Barbara fly into New York's Kennedy Airport, then head for the Plaza Hotel, where they have arranged to meet John and Yoko. Although a one hour meeting was scheduled, the evening goes so well that they end up staying together almost five hours. At the conclusion of the evening, John agrees to appear on Ringo's Can't Fight Lightning album, and a date is arranged for Wednesday January 14, 1981. Reports suggest that John will also join in on Paul's Montserrat recording sessions, which are scheduled to begin on Monday February 2, 1981.
Thursday November 27
The day after the premiere of the Wings film Rockshow, Paul and Linda appear, live by satellite from their Sussex farmhouse, on the ABC TV breakfast show Good Morning America, where they are interviewed by the regular host Dan Hartman. During the 10-minute feature, which commences at 7:46am on Thanksgiving Day, Paul is asked whether or not he still enjoys performing 'Yesterday', and the McCartneys reveal that they "have no nanny, Linda takes care of the children and we live in a ridiculously small house with four kids in two bedrooms!" Mysteriously, the lights in their Rye farmhouse keep going out.
Hartman asks Paul about John's apparent resentment towards him, inquiring: "Do you know why?"
Paul: "I don't know. I can guess and stuff. I actually keep a bit quiet now because anything I say he gets a bit resentful of. It's a weird one. I don't quite know why he thinks like that I really just shut up these days ... It's the best policy, David." (This final half of Paul's speech is said, somewhat spookily, in near darkness due to the power fluctuations.)
In New York, Ringo and Barbara are pictured leaving a local restaurant.
Friday November 28
As part of a legal deposition for Apple Corps against the producers of the Beatlemania stage show, John states today that: "I and the three other former Beatles have plans to stage a reunion concert," an event to be filmed and included as the finale to The Long And Winding Road, an official Beatles produced documentary to be released in the mid-Eighties. (John's deposition will not be made public until the case is settled on June 4, 1986 - see entry.)
Paul and Denny join George Martin at his AIR London studios to resume work on the next Wings album. The sessions are scheduled to run until the middle of December.
Ringo and Barbara fly out from New York and head for the Compass Point Studios in Los Angeles to resume work on the album Can't Fight Lightning.
Sunday November 30
The photographer Allan Tannenbaum visits John and Yoko at the Dakota to show them prints and slides from their last two sessions with him.
Ringo, along with Harry Nilsson and engineer Paul Jarvis, spends time at the Compass Point Studios listening to the previous Can't Fight Lightning session tapes, recorded at the Super Bear studios in France between July 11 and July 21.
From New York, John and Yoko send Aunt Mimi a Christmas card, which reads: "Happy Christmas and a brand new year. We wish you health! Wealth!? Wisdom???! And the time to enjoy it! Love John, Yoko, Sean."
Monday December 1
At the Compass Point Studios, recordings resume on Ringo's album Can't Fight Lightning where he records his vocals for the title track.
Tuesday December 2
At Compass Point Studios, Ringo, along with his engineer Paul Jarvis, spends time mixing tracks intended for the Can't Fight Lightning album. Further mixing takes place on Wednesday December 3.
Wednesday December 3
A local New York paper SOHO News publishes a front-page story on Yoko entitled "Yoko Only". John loves this title so much that he decides that this will be the title for Yoko's next record release, to include the track 'Walking On Thin Ice', currently in production at the Hit Factory. Meanwhile, John and Yoko agree to lend their support to a San Francisco demonstration in aid of Japanese workers employed by local food importers who are on strike for better wages, a protest scheduled to take place on December 13. During the late afternoon, Rolling Stone photographer Anne Liebovitz visits the Lennons at their Dakota apartment to take photos for the magazine. This evening, at the Hit Factory, Yoko records her master vocal for the track 'Walking On Thin Ice'. John, alongside Jack Douglas, supervises the recordings.
At Friar Park, another 16mm film is delivered. This time, it's the 1933 musical 42nd Street, starring Ruby Keeler, Dick Powell and Ginger Rogers. (The print is returned to the British Film Institute in London on Monday December 8.)
Thursday December 4
The album The McCartney Interview, featuring the interview with Paul by Vic Carbarini recorded in May for the Musician magazine, is released in America. (The UK release takes place on February 23, 1981.)
Early this morning, Andy Peebles and BBC producer Paul Williams arrive in New York to carry out their interview with David Bowie for Radio One. Then, with the assistance of WEA Records in Britain and Geffen Records in New York, Peebles and Williams manage to arrange an interview with John and Yoko, which is set for six o'clock on the evening of Saturday December 6, at the Hit Factory. Meanwhile, still in New York, the evening sessions at the Hit Factory continue, with John recording the guitar and keyboard tracks for Yoko's track 'Walking On Thin Ice'.
At the Compass Point Studios in North Hollywood, Ringo records his vocals for the new version of 'Back Off Boogaloo'.
Friday December 5
At the start of the day, John begins planning his return to England, an event Aunt Mimi recalls: "He rang and said he was looking out of a window in New York, looking at the docks and ships and wondering whether any of them were going to Liverpool. It made him homesick. He was coming home. He was coming here to Poole, Dorset, and going to Liverpool." John requested that Mimi send him his old school tie. Following the conversation, Mimi begins preparing a bedroom for John to stay in during his visit.
Later in the day at the Dakota, Andy Peebles and Paul Williams of BBC Radio One meet Yoko to outline the following evening's interview with John. Then later, to accompany the snaps of John from December 3, Jonathan Cott visits the Dakota to interview John for Rolling Stone magazine. The interview resumes at the Hit Factory where John is currently remixing Yoko's tracks 'Open Your Box', 'Kiss Kiss Kiss' and 'Every Man Has A Woman Who Loves Him' for an EP, now provisionally titled Yoko Only. John's interview with Jonathan Cott continues until 4am on the morning of December 6 while Yoko is asleep on the couch in the studio. A fourth track for the EP, 'Walking On Thin Ice', is still not yet concluded, but work on that is scheduled to resume on Monday December 8. (Excerpts of John's interview with Cott will later appear on The Lost Lennon Tapes American radio series.)
In North Hollywood, this period of Can't Fight Lightning sessions are concluded and Ringo flies out to the Bahamas to join Barbara on holiday. (The sessions are scheduled to reconvene on Wednesday January 14, 1981.)
George continues recording at his Friar Park Studios.
Mark Chapman arrives back in New York and immediately begins looking for somewhere to stay.
Saturday December 6
Playboy magazine, featuring the first part of John and Yoko's interview from September, reaches the magazine stands. Meanwhile at the Hit Factory, John gives another lengthy interview today, this time to the BBC Radio One disc jockey Andy Peebles.
John: "I love Fawlty Towers. I'd like to be in that, you know. Part of me would sooner have been a comedian. I just don't have the guts to stand up and do it, but I'd love to be in Monty Python rather than The Beatles. Fawlty Towers is the greatest show I've seen in years...
"I can go right out of this door now and go in a restaurant. You know how great that is? Or go to the movies? I mean, people come and ask for autographs or say 'Hi', but they don't bug you..."
Andy finds John in a most optimistic mood and is keen to talk further, so the session continues into the early hours of Sunday December 7, at New York's Mr. Chow's restaurant. (The three and a quarter hour interview later forms the five-hour BBC radio special and book, entitled The Lennon Tapes. On November 12, 1990, the interview is released in the UK on an official BBC CD entitled John And Yoko - The Interview.)
Mark Chapman checks into the YMCA on 63rd Street and then heads again for the Dakota building. On his way, he drops by a record store to buy John and Yoko's latest album Double Fantasy.
Sunday December 7
After spending parts of yesterday reading the interview, Yoko phones interviewer David Sheff of Playboy magazine to tell him she is pleased with the results of the interview and that John is also pleased and "excited" with the piece. This evening, John rings his Aunt Mimi at her bungalow in Poole, Dorset, and informs her: "I am coming to England and I'm going to Liverpool."
In the seclusion of his Friar Park mansion, George spends his time recording the track 'Dream Away', intended for the closing credits of the Handmade film The Time Bandits. (Ultimately, this track will also appear on his 1982 album Gone Troppo.)
Mark Chapman checks into the relatively expensive ($65 a night) Sheraton Hotel, from where he takes another trip to the Dakota building. He purchases a copy of the January 1981 issue of Playboy magazine, which features the lengthy interview with John and, ironically, a set of nude pictures of Barbara Bach who the following year will become Mrs Ringo Starr. On Chapman's back is a rucksack, which contains 14 hours of Beatles music on audio cassette.
Monday December 8
In the UK, a short excerpt from Andy Peebles interview with John and Yoko on December 6 is transmitted at approximately 8:15am during the Dave Lee Travis show, where the Lennons plug their interview with Andy Peebles, send an exclusive Christmas message to all the BBC Radio One listeners and announce that they "will be coming back to England on the QE2". (This is a unique recording and will not feature in the 1981 Lennon Tapes Radio One series.) Later, a two minute excerpt appears during the Andy Peebles Live From New York show, broadcast on BBC Radio One between 10:32 and 11:30am (New York time: 5:32-6:30am). The song 'Happy Christmas (War Is Over)' accompanies the feature.
In New York, John begins his day shortly before 7:30am (local time) by having breakfast at La Fortuna's and then, at 9am, visiting his local barbers, where his hair is cut into a Fifties style, with a quiff reminiscent of his Beatle days in Hamburg. He returns to the Dakota around 9:45am where, shortly before 10am, Dave Sholin, Laurie Kaye, Ron Hummel and Bert Keane interview John and Yoko, in their Dakota office for an RKO Radio special.
During the lengthy conversation, John remarks: "I was saying to someone the other day, there's only been two artists I've ever worked with for more than a one night stand, as it were. That's Paul McCartney and Yoko Ono. I think that's a pretty damn good choice. As a talent scout, I've done pretty damn well."
Later, he adds: "Maybe in the Sixties we were all naive ... the thing the Sixties did was show us the possibility and the responsibility that we all had. It wasn't the answer, it just gave us a glimpse of the possibility ..."
On his relationship with Yoko: "We've been together now longer than The Beatles, do you know that? People always think in terms that John and Yoko just got together and then The Beatles split. We've been together longer than The Beatles!"
John dedicates the album Double Fantasy to: "The people who grew up with me. I'm saying 'Here I am now, how are you? How's your relationship going? Did you get through it all? Weren't the Seventies a drag, you know?' Here we are, well, let's try to make the Eighties good, because it's still up to us to make what we can of it. It's not out of our control. I still believe in love, I still believe in peace, I still believe in positive thinking."
Following the 90-minute interview, at just after midday. Rolling Stone photographer Annie Liebovitz arrives at their apartment for another photo session, from 2 to 3:30pm. (Many of these shots appear in the January 22, 1981, edition of Rolling Stone magazine, which memorably features, as John had suggested for its cover, the nude shot of John lying across the fully clothed Yoko. This was the last photo taken of the couple together.)
At approximately 4pm, John, Yoko and the RKO team leave the Dakota. The limousine, arranged by the Lennons to pick them up and take them to the Hit Factory, has not arrived so instead they hitch a ride to the studios in the car belonging to the RKO team. Before doing so, John is photographed by Paul Goresh autographing a copy of Double Fantasy for Mark Chapman. During the evening session, John again phones Mimi in England. She remembers: "He was so happy, laughing and joking and looking forward to coming over to England... it was like a new John." David Geffen drops by to inform John, Yoko and Jack Douglas that Double Fantasy has just gone gold, after its first two weeks of release.
At approximately 10:30pm, following four hours of work on Yoko's recording of 'Walking On Thin Ice', John, wearing a new leather jacket he'd bought at the Gap store a week earlier, turns to his producer Jack Douglas and says: "Hey, shall we call it a night? I'm bushed. We'll be back in the morning. Yoko and I want to stop and have a bite to eat on the way home." As Yoko later recalls: "Although we had planned to stop and eat at Stage Deli, we decided not to. We went straight home instead. We were going to check on Sean and then go out for a bite." Sean had been left at the Dakota with Fred Seaman's wife Helen.
On this unusually warm December evening, the streets outside their Dakota residence were almost deserted. John emerges from their limousine and, a couple of paces ahead of Yoko, strolls towards the archway entrance leading into the Dakota's large courtyard. They are surprised to see a man standing in the shadows who says: "Mr. Lennon". The man has a gun and, taking up a combat stance, he fires five shots into John from his .38-calibre Charter Arms five-shot revolver. Yoko remembers: "I didn't realise at first that John had been shot. He kept walking and then he fell and I saw blood." The time is 10:52pm New York time, 3.52am London time.
Aside from Yoko, there are four witnesses to this terrible deed: the Dakota doorman, an elevator operator, a New York taxi driver and a passenger he has just dropped off. John struggles towards the Dakota entrance and manages to climb six short steps to a room used by the concierge. Yoko rushes to his side and cradles his head in her arms. He whispers to her: "Help me!" She begins to scream hysterically, "He's been shot, he's been shot. Somebody come quickly."
The Dakota doorman, Jay Hastings, who had been scheduled to give Yoko a red Plexiglas rain hat, left as a present from an avant-garde clothes designer earlier in the day, recalls the evening: "I had been reading a magazine shortly before 11pm when I heard several shots outside the office, and then the sound of shattering glass. I heard someone coming up the office stairs and John stumbled in, with a horrible confused look on his face. Yoko followed, screaming, 'John's been shot, John's been shot.' At first, I thought it was a crazy joke. But when I saw him collapse to the floor, scattering the cassette tapes of his final sessions that he'd been holding in his arms, I knew it wasn't."
Hastings immediately triggers a police alarm and rushes to help John, gently removing his glasses. Next Hastings takes off his blue Dakota uniform jacket and places it over John's motionless body. Blood is pouring freely from John's mouth. Hastings whispers to John: "It's okay John, you'll be all right."
The first policemen to react to Hastings and the wave of 911 emergency calls, are Officers Steve Spiro and Peter Cullen from the New York Police department who were cruising in their squad car at Broadway and 72nd Street. Their first action at the scene of the crime is to arrest the murderer. "Put your hands up!" they tell Hastings, who is kneeling, covered in blood. "Not him," the other Dakota doorman insists. "He works here. He's the one," he says, pointing to Mark David Chapman who is standing to the left of the archway on West 72nd Street, reading a copy of J.D. Salinger's book Catcher In The Rye. The gun had been thrown away, coming to rest in nearby bushes alongside the signed copy of Double Fantasy Chapman had obtained earlier in the evening. Spiro and Cullen perform on Chapman the "spreadeagle and patting down" ritual against the Dakota's elegant stone facade. Chapman evidently prepared himself for his arrest. "Don't hurt me. Stay with me," he pleads. "No one's going to hurt you," Cullen says. "Just turn around and place your hands against that wall, your feet apart." Following a search, Cullen says to Spiro, "He's clean, cuff him Steve." The firearm, has been retrieved from the bushes by the elevator operator and is handed over to Spiro. The search of Chapman's person yields just keys, the copy of Catcher In The Rye and a wallet, which contains $2,000 in cash. Chapman is heard to say: "I've got a big man inside me and I've got a little man inside me. The little man is the man who pulled the trigger!"
By now, more policemen from the 20th Precinct station house on West 82nd Street have appeared at the scene. Arriving on the heels of Messrs Spiro and Cullen are Police Officers Bill Gamble and James Moran who, seeing that Spiro and Cullen have the situation with the suspect under control, race to John's side. Against Yoko's wishes, Gamble turns over John's body to determine the severity of his injuries and asks: "What is your name?" John hesitantly replies, "Lennon". Due to the obvious seriousness of John's condition, Gamble informs Moran that they cannot afford to wait for an ambulance and decide instead to take John to hospital in their car. Moran grasps John's legs and Gamble grips Lennon by the underarms and they carry him in the crooks of their elbows to their parked car, placing him on the back seat. Gamble takes up a position kneeling at his side while Moran takes to the driver's seat, setting off the roof emergency light panel and sirens. At a speed of 50mph, the car travels through the streets en route to the nearest emergency hospital, St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital on West 59th Street, a distance of fourteen blocks, the equivalent of more than half a mile.
Gamble keeps up a conversation to keep John conscious. "Are you sure you're John Lennon?"
"I am," he says, becoming increasingly weak.
"How do you feel?" Gamble continues.
"I'm in pain," John replies.
At approximately 11pm (ET), the event reaches the American news feeds. The report reads: "A man, tentatively identified as John Lennon, has been shot."
Moran, meanwhile, has radioed ahead to the hospital to arrange for a rolling stretcher to be in position by the time they arrive. Following their car is another police car, driven by Officer Anthony Palmer, which contains Yoko. She is hysterical and keeps on screaming, "Tell me it's not true ... please tell me it's not true." When the first car arrives, in less than three minutes, John's body is moved into emergency surgery. Among the first physicians to administer treatment to him is Dr. Stephan Lynn, the medical director of the hospital's emergency room. In the hospital, Yoko puts a phone call through to their Dakota apartment to check that Sean is OK. After coming off the phone she is told that despite all the attempts to save John, including massive blood transfusions and surgical procedures by Lynn and an army of highly trained staff, John has been pronounced dead. "He never stood a chance," he sympathetically tells Yoko. "Nothing we were able to do could revive your husband. We believe the first bullet killed him. It ripped through John's chest causing irreparable damage to a major artery." In complete shock, Yoko asks him hysterically: "Do you mean that he is sleeping?"
John was officially pronounced dead at 11:07pm. Yoko was told at 11:15pm.
The news spreads fast and America first hears about John's murder on WABC TV's Monday Night Football, ironically, a show on which John had appeared live one day short of six years ago, where he was seen being interviewed by Howard Cosell. It is Cosell himself who is faced with the unenviable task of revealing the news of John's tragic death when he picks up the news feed originating from the WABC TV station. Cosell recalls: "Near the end of the Monday Night Football broadcast, my producer. Bob Goodrich said, 'Roone Arledge just called and told me that John Lennon has been shot and rushed to the hospital. We're waiting for details from ABC News.' I couldn't believe it. Goodrich then told me he was dead on arrival. I was devastated. We were in the midst of a tied football game that was about to go into overtime and I was wrestling with the problem of breaking the news on TV, thinking that, even in this sick, sports-obsessed country, this is far more important than any goddamn football game will ever be. I went on the air and said that it was just a game, and I felt compelled to tell this story."
Back at the Hit Factory, Jack Douglas, still at work on John and Yoko's track 'Walking On Thin Ice', is informed of the tragedy by his wife at 11.35pm. He immediately goes into a state of shock, which, according to Douglas, lasts six months. Douglas immediately recalls some strange things John said in the control room during their final session. He decides it best that the tapes of the studio banter between him and John this evening be wiped. (To this day, Jack Douglas refuses to say exactly what John said to him on this fateful night.)
Tuesday December 9
In New York ...
At 12:10am, back at the Roosevelt hospital, Dr. Stephan Lynn, the director of the emergency room service and the man responsible for trying to save John, faces the press in a room adjacent to the emergency room. Facing a non-stop strobe light of whirring flash bulbs, Lynn, in his spotless white lab coat, begins: "John Lennon ... (pausing for twenty seconds in order to regain his composure) ... John Lennon was brought to the emergency room of the St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital this evening, shortly before 11pm. He was dead on arrival. Extensive resuscitative efforts were made, but in spite of transfusions and many procedures, he could not be resuscitated. He had multiple gunshot wounds in his chest, in his left arm and in his back. There were seven wounds in his body. I don't know exactly how many bullets there were. I'm certain that he was dead at the moment that the first shots hit his body."
A reporter asks him: "Did you tell Yoko that Mr. Lennon was dead? What did she say?"
Lynn replies: "I did tell his wife that he was dead. She was ... most distraught at the time and found it quite hard to accept. She is no longer in the hospital."
As the press conference continues, Yoko quietly leaves the Roosevelt hospital to be escorted back to the Dakota by David Geffen, Jack Douglas and the police. A crowd of nearly two hundred has by now gathered outside the apartment block. Within an hour, that figure has reached almost six hundred, all of them chanting Beatles and John Lennon songs, many of them weeping uncontrollably. By now, New York Police had erected wooden barriers in front of the entrance to the building.
At 2:00am, at the Twentieth Precinct on West 82nd Street, the Chief of Detectives, James T. Sullivan, holds another press conference. He begins: "We asked you to come here so we could give you a briefing on what we know at this point in the homicide of John Lennon. We have arrested Mark David Chapman of 55 South Kukui Street, Hawaii, for the homicide of John Lennon. Born May 10, 1955, he has apparently been in New York City for about a week staying briefly at the YMCA I'm not sure which one." Sullivan concludes by saying: "Mark Chapman behaved very calmly when he was arrested." The final question from the press was answered at 2:24am.
At approximately 3:00am (Eastern Time), with Yoko watching the constant television news reports on the tragedy, Elliot Mintz arrives at the Dakota to comfort her. She then dictates to David Geffen a personal statement to be read out later in the morning. Shortly after 3:30am, she rings Paul at his home in Sussex to tell him the distressing news. At 6:00am, a caller from California rings the main office at their Dakota apartment, saying: "I am flying to New York to finish the job Chapman started. I'm going to get Yoko Ono." Police at the Los Angeles Airport intercepts the call.
At 7:00am ET, Sean wakes up and, for 24 hours, he is not told anything about what has just happened.
Geffen Records release Yoko's first statement, which reads: "There is no funeral for John. Later in the week we will set the time for a silent vigil to pray for his soul. We invite you to participate from wherever you are at the time. We thank you for the many flowers sent to John. But in the future, instead of flowers, please consider sending donations in his name to the Spirit Foundation Inc, which is John's personal charitable foundation. He would have appreciated it very much. John loved and prayed for the human race. Please pray the same for him. Love Yoko and Sean."
The tragedy is naturally the headline on every major TV and radio station across the States. Richard Lester, director of The Beatles' films A Hard Day's Night and Help!, appears live to talk about the tragedy on the NBC TV breakfast show Today. He manages to avoid speaking about John's death in great detail, instead saying: "It seems appalling to me that all this time no one has spoken about the problem of people having guns in America, and the problem that people can just shoot a man on the street..."
At 10:30am, an autopsy is carried out on John's body. Yoko is informed that because of John's death one fan has already committed suicide. She immediately issues a statement requesting fans not to turn against themselves in their anguish. Shortly before this, Ringo and Barbara arrive at the Dakota to comfort Yoko and play with Sean, their entrance to the building blocked by hundreds of still hysterical weeping fans.
Yoko records a piano demo of the song 'I Don't Know Why' at the Dakota before going out for dinner with Elliot Mintz and David Geffen.
In England ...
"Rush ... New York, Monday - Former Beatle John Lennon Was Shot And Killed Tonight At His Home In New York City, Police Said." Reuters News Copy - 04:55am.
The news of John's death reaches England early in the morning. Disbelief mingles with anger as the country instantly becomes a nation in mourning. The tragedy is the major news headline and the talking point throughout the world. TV and radio stations reschedule their programmes to transmit tributes and non-stop Lennon and Beatles music. These include the Simon Bates Golden Hour show (BBC Radio 1, broadcast between 9:32 and 10:30am) and the Andy Peebles Live From New York show (11:32 to 12:30pm), which is hastily re-titled Andy Peebles Tribute To John Lennon, and features the host, who had arrived back in London from New York at breakfast time, in a state of total shock.
At Friar Park, George is the first of the ex-Beatles to be told of John's shooting when, at 5am, he receives a phone call from his sister Louise in America. Hearing the news and believing it to be nothing more than a flesh wound, he goes back to sleep. When he awakes a few hours later, he immediately issues a statement to the press from his Friar Park office. His statement, in full, reads: "After all we went through together I had and still have great love and respect for him. I am shocked and stunned. To rob life is the ultimate robbery in life. This perpetual encroachment on other people's space is taken to the limit with the use of a gun. It is an outrage that people can take other people's lives when they obviously haven't got their own lives in order."
Later, at his private Friar Park Studios, George attempts to do more work on the track 'Dream Away' but, overcome with remorse, he aborts the session early and retires to the living quarters of his Henley mansion.
In Poole, Dorset, Aunt Mimi wakes up after hearing the words "John Lennon" on the BBC World Service radio broadcast. Almost immediately, the phone rings. It is Neil Aspinall, who asks her: "Mimi, have you heard?" She naturally asks: "What are you talking about?" Before Neil can answer, he hangs up. Mimi heard him crying. Her attention is redrawn towards the radio broadcast, from which she learns the shocking news.
Shortly after 8:45am, while Linda is taking the children to school, Paul rings his brother Mike in Liverpool to inform him of John's death. As Mike recalls in the Liverpool Echo newspaper: "Paul was too distressed to talk properly. He just said, 'Keep sending the good vibes down from Liverpool to help him through the day.' It is going to be a busy day for him and he is very, very upset."
At 11:29am, as Paul attempts to leave his Sussex farmhouse, he is greeted by an army of reporters who have been camping outside his home since the news of John's death broke. Still in a complete state of shock, Paul has this to offer: "I can't take it at the moment. John was a great man who'll be remembered for his unique contributions to art, music and peace. He is going to be missed by the whole world."
Paul is driven to London where he joins Denny Laine and George Martin at AIR Studios, where they spend the afternoon recording, to the best of their ability, a small piece of the track 'Rainclouds'. During the afternoon, Paul telephones Yoko at the Dakota to offer his further condolences.
Meanwhile, a team from the nation's media has gathered outside the studio, all eager to obtain Paul's further reactions. When he finally leaves the studio in the early evening, he is unable to express his feelings towards John's tragic death. Finally confronted, he offhandedly remarks to the reporters: "It's a drag, innit?" The comment is sadly mistaken as being flippant.
During the morning, Ringo and Barbara, still on holiday in the Bahamas, receive a phone call from Barbara's daughter back in England who tells them that John has been hurt. Instantly dismissing it as exaggeration by the media, she rings through again, informing them that John was, in fact, dead. Ringo then phones his ex-wife Maureen to tell her the news. By coincidence, John's first wife Cynthia hears the news from Ringo at the same time as she is staying with Maureen at her house. Cynthia immediately rings her and John's son Julian at their home in North Wales and informs him of the news, telling him not to leave the house or speak to reporters until she returns. Ringo and Barbara, along with a bodyguard, immediately charter a jet to fly them to New York where they join Yoko and Sean at the Dakota, entering the premises through the back door to avoid the huge throng of people who have gathered at the front of the building. Before they enter the Dakota Ringo calls Yoko from a payphone to alert her of their imminent arrival. As they enter the Lennons apartment, Yoko requests that only Ringo come in but Ringo insists, "Where I go, Barbara goes too!" When Ringo and Barbara eventually leave the Dakota they are forced to face the crowd of near hysterical Beatles fans. As they do so, the fans begin reaching out to Ringo, attempting to touch him. This causes Ringo and Barbara great distress, as he recalls: "I was disgusted, not with the idea that they were there, but with the fact that you had a lot of dummies in the crowd all shouting at Yoko and saying, 'Come to the windows'. She didn't want to deal with it at the time you know, the very next day after John's death. I also didn't want to hear people saying how much they loved The Beatles. I was there for a friend, not because he was a member of a pop group." As Ringo leaves the Dakota, John's first son Julian arrives, just off a plane from his home in North Wales.
Paul, meanwhile, retreats to his farm in Sussex where he will quietly celebrate Christmas and the New Year with his family. He will not reappear in public again until February 1 next year.
UK TV schedules are hastily rearranged to broadcast special tributes to John. BBC1 broadcasts (from 6:00pm) an extended Nationwide tribute, hosted by Frank Bough, and The Beatles' 1965 film Help! (between 7:31 and 8:59pm). While on BBC2 (between 9:01 and 9:29pm), the Radio One DJ Anne Nightingale presents a special Old Grey Whistle Test tribute programme, featuring as special guests the DJs Andy Peebles and Paul Gambaccini, and journalist Michael Watts. Towards the end of the show, an emotionally charged Anne Nightingale reveals that "Paul [McCartney] has just phoned me and said to give you a message which is 'on behalf of Yoko and George and Ringo and Linda, to say thank everybody for their support since this tragedy. It's an incredible drag, and I want to thank you all so very much'." Later in the evening, the same station designates the majority of their Newsnight programme to a review of John's life and career. Over on the ITV network, Granada quickly put together a 40-minute tribute programme called simply Lennon, which is hosted by Tony Wilson and features among its guests John and Yoko's former assistant Anthony Fawcett, Johnny Hamp, journalist Richard Williams and, in a filmed interview, Beatles' biographer Hunter Davies.
The picture taken by the photographer Paul Goresh of John signing the Double Fantasy album for Chapman will make over $100,000 in sales. The New York Daily News paid Goresh $2,000 for full rights to the picture and then joined forces with UPI (United Pictures International) to handle the world syndication.
In West Germany, orders for Double Fantasy begin rising from 10,000 to 50,000 a day. In East Berlin, the radio station DDR-1 broke from its usual ban against the playing of Western rock music by airing a ninety-minute programme featuring nothing but Beatles music.
From this day forward, all around the world, the image, legend and devotion surrounding The Beatles will never be quite the same.
Wednesday December 10
John's tragic murder continues to dominate the pages of the morning papers, more so today because the timing of the murder left little time for newspapers to prepare material the previous day. The Daily Mirror sums it all up perfectly when they print on their front page: "Death Of A Hero".
When Sean awakes at 7am (New York Time), Yoko gently informs him what has happened to John. Once dressed, she takes him to the spot where John was killed. Sean naturally asks why this happened. Yoko has no answer. She immediately prepares another press statement. On Lenono, Studio One, 1 West 72nd Street, New York, New York 10023, headed note paper, Yoko and Sean's statement reads as follows:
"I told Sean what happened. I showed him the picture of his father on the cover of the paper and explained the situation. I took Sean to the spot where John lay after he was shot. Sean wanted to know why the person shot John if he liked John. I explained that he was probably a confused person. Sean said he would find out if he was confused or if he really had meant to kill John. I said that was up to the court. He asked what court - a tennis court or a basketball court? That's how Sean used to talk with his father. They were buddies. John would have been proud of Sean if he had heard this. Sean cried later. He also said, 'Now daddy is part of God. I guess when you die you become much more bigger because you're part of everything.'
"I don't have much more to add to Sean's statement. The silent vigil will take place December 14th at 2pm for ten minutes.
"Our thoughts will be with you."
"Yoko & Sean
"Dec. 10 '80, N.Y.C."
Later, from the seclusion of her Dakota apartment, Yoko arranges for John's body to be cremated at 2pm (New York Time) today at the Ferncliff crematorium in suburban Hartsdale, north of the city in Westchester County. The cremation is captured on film, and offensive photos of John lying dead on a mortuary slab are sold to a New York newspaper for $10,000. At 9pm this evening (New York Time) Doug MacDougall of the Ferncliff Mortuary delivers John's ashes to Yoko in an urn. Reports later suggest that these are either placed beneath Yoko's bed, on John's side, or sent to "somewhere in England".
In Liverpool, the Liverpool Echo newspaper begins printing the series "The Magic Of John Lennon".
Thursday December 11
The Lennons' personal assistant Fred Seaman requests to be temporarily relieved from his duties at the Dakota. In Florida, a 16-year-old girl takes an overdose of pills, while in Utah a man shoots himself. Both were overcome with remorse following John's death. This prompts Yoko to phone the New York Daily News, with a statement that she hopes will stop others from committing suicide.
At Friar Park, George cancels another recording session.
Friday December 12 & Saturday December 13
For two straight nights, Yoko joins Jack Douglas at the Record Plant recording studios working on a strange collage featuring John's music and voice. It was, for Yoko, an "exercise in emotional exorcism" but for Douglas, it was "like a funeral service".
The Liverpool Echo (December 12) publishes a tribute to John by Bill Harry entitled "He Only Wanted To Be Himself". The touching piece concludes: "So many dreams were killed with him, so many potential rock masterpieces lost forever, all speculation about a Beatles' reunion finally laid to rest. God bless you, John. We all loved you and will never forget you."
Sunday December 14
Crowds ranging in size from a few dozen to tens of thousands gather in cities throughout the world to observe a day of mourning for John. At Yoko's request, ten minutes of silence are observed at all of these locations at 2pm EST (7pm UK time). During this period, many radio stations around the world cease broadcasting. Work ceases at Abbey Road Studios in London, where a large crowd has gathered, and studio engineers pump John's music into the car park. Two of the largest gatherings are in New York's Central Park and in Liverpool, where Sam Leach, one of The Beatles' first promoters, leads 25,000 mourners in a seven-hour tribute to John Lennon outside Liverpool's St. George's Hall. Played at the emotional gathering are pre-recorded tapes by Yoko Ono, the boxer Muhammad Ali and the former Prime Minister Harold Wilson. The ceremony ends with the ten-minute silent vigil as requested by Yoko. The Central Park event is covered live by ABC Eyewitness News and features interviews with Sid Bernstein and the DJ Cousin Brucie. At the conclusion of the worldwide vigil, Yoko releases the following statement: "Bless you for your tears and prayers. I saw John smiling in the sky. I saw sorrow changing into clarity. I saw all of us becoming one mind. Thank you. Love, Yoko."
Friday December 19
As part of their Christmas celebrations, a copy of the 1946 film The Best Years Of Their Life, starring Myrna Loy and Dana Andrews, is delivered to George at Friar Park. (The print is returned to the BFI on Monday December 22.)
Wednesday December 24
On Christmas Eve at the Dakota, Sean receives his final festive present from John, an Akita puppy he names Merry. Meanwhile, a gold watch inscribed to Sean from John and Yoko, as well as various other Christmas presents, mysteriously vanish from their apartment.
Saturday December 27
As the world continues to mourn John's death, his single '(Just Like) Starting Over' and the album Double Fantasy both reach number one in the American charts. (They will reach the same position in the UK charts on January 3, 1981.)
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